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The Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security in Japan


M. Hotta

1. Introduction

Fisheries play an important role in Japan to ensure a stable supply of fish, provide income and employment opportunities, earn foreign exchange, preserve marine environments and traditional marine culture and offer recreational opportunities. Among these, the constant stable supply of fish is by far the most important element directly linked to food security issues. The government considers production prospects to be a key factor in the food security problem, and the issue of sustainability assumes particular importance.

The role of fish in food security can be defined as a situation in which all households have both physical and economic access to adequate amounts of fish for all members and where households are not at risk of losing such access. There are three dimensions implicit in this definition: availability, stability and access. However, the expansion and intensification of Japanese fisheries has threatened access to fish during the last three decades. This is because Japanese fishery development has often been associated with the buildup of pressures that have led to resource degradation and adverse impact on the wider environment. Such pressures may continue in the future, and a major issue will be how to minimize negative effects on the resources, the environment and the sustainability of fisheries.

Sustainable capture fisheries and aquaculture development policies are also needed to make fish production possible at affordable prices on the basis of environmentally sound management of fishery resources. The Japanese government has been implementing support policies to increase fish production and self-sufficiency by balancing the priorities for environmentally sustainable and economically viable advances in fish production.

2. The Role of Fisheries in Food Security

Fish is one of the most widely distributed food commodities in Japan. It currently makes up 40 percent of the total animal protein consumption, or about 20 percent of protein from both animal and plant origin (Table 1). The role of fish in animal protein consumption has declined during the last two decades partly because of the shift in consumers' dietary habits from fish to meat and partly because of increased competitiveness of meat as a result of import liberalization (e.g. beef). Nevertheless, at the global level the highest level, of fish consumption is still found in Japan.

The self-sufficiency rate in food fish has declined sharply during the last decade from 86 percent in 1985 to 61 percent in 1994 (Table 2). Per-caput food consumption measured by the dietary energy supply in calories has remained unchanged at the level of around 2,600 calories per day during the last decade, which compares with Denmark (3,675 cal), Germany (3,537 cal), USA (3,495 cal), France (3,491 cal), Sweden (3,443 cal), Switzerland (3,435 cal). The daily calorie intake of Japanese appears to have reached a saturation point corresponding to their average body size. The self-sufficiency rate in calories was only 37 percent in 1993 as compared with France (143 percent), USA (113 percent), Germany (94 percent) and UK (73 percent).

Fish protein is generally recognized as a valuable ingredient in a balanced diet. It is believed that the Japanese dietary pattern with a high percentage of fish protein intake contributes to long life expectancy as fish are low in cholesterol and saturated fats.

The sector contributes directly and indirectly to food security through income generation. Directly, it provides income to about 313,000 fishermen in production and indirectly to about 1.34 million people in related industries (e.g. processing, marketing, transportation, boat building, manufacturing of equipment/material). Fisheries also provide an inducement for promoting other industries and can be a generator of economic development. In small coastal fishing communities where few alternative employment opportunities exist, fisheries play a vital role in employment, income generation and access to fish food and thus contribute significantly to economic and social well-being.

Fish has played a minor role as a source of foreign exchange earnings. Fish exports represented only 0.3 percent of the national exports in 1994, amounting to US$ 1,200 million. However, fish exports are of high economic value, having a comparative advantage in terms of production.

3. Production

3.1 Capture Fisheries

The past three decades have seen a profound change in the Japanese fishery situation. For more than two decades national fish production continued to increase from 6.9 million mt in 1965 to reach 12.8 million mt in 1988 (Table 3). But subsequently, production began to decrease and in 1995 it amounted to about 7.5 million mt. A number of reasons may be responsible for this drastic decline. Chief among these is the gradual and continuing exclusion of Japanese vessels from grounds within 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) now within the jurisdiction of coastal states. This was due to the change in the pattern of production and processing implemented by coastal states as a result of the creation of EEZs. This course of action has particularly been the case with the USA, Canada and Russia, where the governments have been arranging for their own vessels to catch and process fish for export as well as for domestic markets.

The growth and stagnation of the Japanese fish catch has been much influenced by the growth and decline of distant water fisheries, the role of which has been to supply a variety of fish which coastal and offshore fisheries could not provide (e.g. tuna, cod, salmon, atka mackerel, octopus, crab). During the peak of distant water fisheries, in 1973 for example, these fisheries accounted for 41 percent of the marine fisheries production with a total output of 4 million mt, whereas their yields dropped to around 1 million mt in recent years. In 1989 coastal fish production exceeded distant water production for the first time, and since then the discrepancies between them have widened.

Japan's dependence on the EEZs of other countries as well as high seas is reviewed in Table 4. The Table indicates that the yield from other countries' EEZs totaled 3.4 million mt in 1976, while it drastically declined to 1.7 million mt in 1985 and further to one million mt in 1994. Such a drastic change can be attributable to exclusion from the USA waters which had offered main fishing grounds to Japanese distant water-going vessels in the past. Whilst the USA's allocation to Japan amounted to 1.178 million mt in 1978 and 837,000 mt in 1985, it dropped to zero in 1988.

The Japanese quotas in the Russian EEZ have also declined sharply over the years, from 465,000 mt in 1978, to 317,000 mt in 1985 and to 100,000 mt in 1995. In contrast to the declining trends in the allocations to Japan, quotas provided by New Zealand have continued to increase from 91,000 mt in 1978, to 144,000 mt in 1985 and to 278,000 mt in 1995.

As regards Japanese fishing on high seas, the yields have continued to rise from 450,000 mt in 1976 to 834,000 mt in 1985 - a peak year. But since then production has begun to decline, and in 1994 it amounted to only 44,000 mt. This is because high sea fisheries have been seriously affected by a number of international regulations in recent years. These include Japanese Pacific salmon fishery under the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Convention (NPAFC); driftnet squid fisheries under the Agreement on Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas (Compliance Agreement); migratory species such as tuna and the like under the UN Agreement on the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (adopted in 1995). In the foreseeable future Japanese fisheries may suffer from stricter controls on high sea waters. A case in point is Alaska pollack fishing in the Bering Sea, the so-called "donut hole", where the USA and Russia insist that trawl fishing in this area will have negative effects on the stocks of this species in the EEZs of their respective countries.

Additionally, Japanese distant water fisheries have been confronted with unprecedented difficulties caused by increased imports, dwindling fish prices, increased wages and ageing of crews, shortage of young manpower and, as a consequence, a decrease in Japan's competitiveness against the Republic of Korea and Taiwan Province of China.

Offshore fisheries have also suffered from a serious setback after a peak production of about 7 million mt in 1985, due mainly to the sharp drop in sardine stocks (including Japanese pilchard) which might have been caused by prevailing high water temperatures. Likewise, the yields from coastal waters have also continued to decline to 1.8 million mt in 1994 - 20 percent less than in the peak year of 1990. The sharp decline in coastal fisheries is also linked to decreasing sardine stocks. Other causes of the dwindling catch include overfishing on the one hand and industrial pollution on the other.

3.2 Aquaculture

With the drop in total Japanese fish landings, especially in distant water fisheries, the importance of farmed fish consumption has grown. For the last three decades aquaculture has been a remarkable economic growth sector for the production of food in Japan. From 1975 to 1994 marine aquaculture output grew by 1.7 times from 773,000 mt to 1.3 million mt, whereas in value terms it rose by 2.5 times from 254 billion yen to 627 billion yen. Much of this has been due to the increase of cage culture production of yellow tail (almost 2.8 times) and other high-valued species (e.g. salmon, horse mackerel, sea bream, puffer fish) and, to a lesser extent, of shellfish (i.e. scallop, oyster) and aquatic plants (i.e. kelp, undaria, nori laver). Production of farmed prawn has been insignificant because of the availability of imported shrimps.

In 1994 farmed fish as a percentage of total landings was 17.5 percent (16.6 percent sea farming and 0.9 percent freshwater). Expensive species that consumers often could not in the past afford to buy have become popular as a result of increased quantities and lower prices made possible through aquaculture development.

The reason for the significant contribution (almost 30 percent in value terms) of aquaculture commodities to the national value of fisheries is the high value of many farmed products (particularly fish and molluscs), which are marketed fresh. Rapid acceleration in production of certain commodities (e.g. yellow tail, scallop) contributed to lower prices of these products. Many farms, both large and small, had financial difficulties during the last half of the eighties.

Since farmed commodities are hardly exported, increased aquaculture production has significantly contributed to meeting domestic demand for fish. Around 705,000 mt of fish were provided by the aquaculture sector in 1994, which accounted for some 9 percent of the total consumption of fish. Aquaculture has played an important role to fill gaps in the production decrease largely caused by distant water fisheries.

Whilst the yield of freshwater aquaculture is insignificant, accounting for around one percent, the freshwater species (e.g. eel, carp, trout, sweet fish) kept their traditionally high value, as they offer seasonal flavour and tastes.

3.3 Stock Enhancement

Salmon is by far the most important species in terms of the scale of stocking operations. In 1994 some 2,000 million fingerlings were released and 68,470,000 salmons were captured in the same year, an increase of 13.4 percent over the previous year. Sea bream, flounder, prawn, crab, abalone, scallop, top shell, sea urchin and red shellfish have gained popularity in stocking programmes during the last two decades and in 1996 a total of 3,854 million fry/fingerlings of these species were set free into the sea. Mass production of seed is undertaken by prefectural fish farming centres; there are at present 49 such centres throughout the country. Seed produced by the centres are sold at subsidized prices to fisheries cooperatives which undertake the responsibility of release and management of the seed. At the central level the Japan Fish Farming Fisheries Association is responsible for coordination and monitoring of stock enhancement programmes.

4. Consumption and Trade

Table 5 gives details of the demand and supply situation in respect of fresh and frozen fish during the last three decades. Domestic consumption of fish steadily increased from 2.0 million mt to 3.4 million mt from 1965 to 1994. Once domestic production declined, the gaps between demand and supply had to be filled by imports. In fact, Japanese imports increased by 25 times from 103,000 mt to 2.5 million mt during the above period. Imports of fresh and frozen fish were nearly 2.4 times greater than the domestic production of the same commodities. The major frozen items included prawn, tuna, salmon, cephalopods, cod, Alaska pollack and crab.

The Table also illustrates that the imports of fresh and frozen fish represented some 75 percent of the total domestic consumption in 1994, showing a heavy reliance of Japanese consumers on imported fish. From the food security point of view, the self-sufficiency rate in fresh and frozen fish was 96.5 percent in 1965, whereas it dropped to 10.8 percent in 1994.

Farmed fish imports, as a percentage of total fish imports, have also been increasing in the Japanese market. While imported farmed fish species are limited (major species being warm-water shrimp, Atlantic coho and spring salmon, trout, and eel), their market share has developed rapidly. For example, in 1995, total imports of farmed salmon amounted to 90,000 mt (an increase of 16 percent from 1994) while imports of wild salmon decreased by 32 percent from 167,000 mt in 1994 to 113,000 mt in 1995. Increased availability, consistently high quality, and a higher fat content than wild salmon have contributed to the increasing popularity of farmed salmon among Japanese consumers.

The Japanese fish market has recently been on the road to recovery after a long-lasting slowdown. However, while the depreciated yen has not been a great factor in impeding the recovery of the fish market, a massive outbreak of food poisoning by E.coli bacteria exerted negative effects on certain items of fish that are consumed in raw form (sashimi or sushi). Since the outbreak of the massive infection in Okayama prefecture in May 1996 and in Sakai city, Osaka, the Japanese government has been trying without success to identify the actual route of infection, the source of which appears not to be from fish or seafood products.

In order to satisfy domestic demand for seafood, which is still rising despite increasing competition from red meat, Japan is turning more and more to imported fish. Seafood imports are now equivalent to a third of the total Japanese catch in terms of volume but, because of the species involved, are equivalent to 60 percent in terms of value. The country now buys a wide range of species from an ever-increasing number of countries. Most of these are items with high unit value such as shrimp, and lobster species, which together formed the most important product category in 1995, comprising 22 percent of the total value of imports. This category was followed by tunas and marlin at 11 percent, then salmon and trout at 8 percent and crab at 7.2 percent.

The list of countries exporting to Japan in 1995 is dominated by the USA at 15 percent. Next comes China at 10.3 percent, Thailand at 8 percent, the Republic of Korea at 7.5 percent, followed by Taiwan Province of China at 7 percent.

Although fish imports have continued to increase during the last three decades, each period saw different underlying characteristics in the import trends.

1965-1973: Reflecting high economic growth, consumer demand became oriented towards high-value commodities, and import items diversified. Imports began to increase rapidly and in 1971 total imports exceeded total exports in value terms. Aquaculture development was facilitated to meet rising demand in terms of both volume and variety. Capture fisheries production grew steadily, with an increase of 230,000 mt between 1965 and 1973. During this period, fish imports increased in parallel to the expansion of capture fisheries and the volume of imports was not more than 10 percent of domestic production. Clearly, there was no competition between domestic yields and imports.

1974-1981: This period was characterized by rising prices of fuel as a result of "oil shock", dwindling fish prices, and the gradual exclusion of Japanese vessels from the EEZs of other coastal states. A 200-mile EEZ was universally established in 1977 and this began to influence national landings. Fresh and frozen fish imports increased considerably from 526,000 mt in 1974 to 998,000 mt in 1981 to help to fill shortfalls caused by reduced domestic landings.

1981-1989: As a result of large reductions in quotas to Japan by other coastal states, there was a spectacular increase in imports as compared with the previous periods. This phenomenon culminated in 1988 when the USA's allocations to Japan became nil, followed by the USSR's extensive restrictions to Japan. As a consequence, capture fisheries experienced a decline of some 500,000 mt and, in substitution, imports increased tremendously. Other important factors affecting the import trends included increased demand for raw materials from the processing industry, increased demand for fish commodities from supermarkets and changes in trade terms due to the rising yen. These problems contributed to the near doubling of the amount of imports compared with the previous period.

1989-1994: Trends in fish trade were influenced by changes in production, currency rates and demand of individual consumers as well as the food industry sector (e.g. supermarkets). The appreciation of the yen contributed to a sharp increase in Japan's imports. One striking phenomenon was that imports of expensive species were either at their peak or close to it, whereas imports of cheaper items such as mackerel (e.g. from Norway) showed a remarkable growth. Some of these cheaper imported species are subject to quota restrictions, the quotas being ostensibly to protect Japanese fishermen and accordingly fixed in time for the June-November and December-May seasons. However, it is considered by Japanese importers that the quota system is not yet a bar to increased imports of those species governed by it.

The Japan Marine Products Importers Association has recently predicted that imports would start to level off in the near future and annual totals are unlikely to rise above 3.5 million mt, and would certainly not exceed 4 million mt, at least in the foreseeable future.

Rapid economic growth in Japan from 1970 to 1990 also led to significant changes in traditional eating habits. These developments have been accelerated by additional changes in economic growth and socio-cultural perceptions: (e.g. the increase in the number of women in the workforce who now comprise more than 41 percent of the total). The overall trend to eat out continues to grow because of changing work habits and the breakdown of the traditional Japanese family, also called the emergence of the "nucleus family". Single-person households and the aging of the society have also accelerated the change of eating habits, leading to the growth of a food industry which has helped housewives to reduce the time spent in cooking.

The Annual Report on the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (1994) revealed that the expenditure of a Japanese household for dining out accounted for 10 percent of the total expenditure for food in 1974, while it increased to 14 percent in 1984 and 17 percent in 1994. Per capita, the Japanese spend approximately 13,000 yen a year in restaurants. They eat a wider variety of foods and more ready-to-serve prepared items. Japanese continue to demonstrate concern for the safety of food products and are showing a growing preference for healthy foods (lower fat and salt content).

5. Future Demand and Supply Possibilities

The demand for fish has two distinct components, that for direct human consumption and the derived demand which operates through the demand for fish-meal. Possible future levels of demand for food fish and feed at 2010 projected by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are set out in Table 6.

The demand for food fish is affected by the forces influencing demand, particularly income and price. Assuming a continuance of past trends and no change in relative prices, by 2010 total demand for food fish will have increased to about 8.95 million mt live weight, i.e. some 615,000 mt more than the amount consumed during the 1993/95 base period. Per-caput consumption is also expected to increase from 36.7 kg to 38 kg.

The potential demand for fish for feeding purposes, whether of aquaculture or livestock, can be expected to fall. Average consumption in the period 1993/95 was of the order of 3.67 million mt and it is estimated that in 2010 the demand will be around 3.2 million mt. With increasing demand for fish for direct human consumption and the declining trends of the sardine stocks, the long-run trend in the relative prices of fish-meal is likely to be upwards; fish-meal will play a diminishing role in the preparation of compound feeds and is likely to be replaced by low-cost plant protein.

It is thus estimated that total requirements for fish and shellfish in 2010 will reach 12.130 million mt from the 1993/95 consumption of 12.030 million mt, an increase of 127,000 mt.

Table 6 also shows that total demand for seaweeds is expected to increase by 30,000 mt wet weight over the period from 1992/94 to 2010, reflecting consumers' preference to eat healthy food containing minerals and cellulose. Per-caput consumption of seaweeds is likely to increase to 1.5 kg from the present level of 1.3 kg during the above period.

Marine fisheries production has been on a downward trend since the peak year of 1988 due to the deterioration of the sardine stocks, which might have been caused by prevailing high water temperatures in the fishing areas. Distant water fisheries will face even severer situations as a result of restrictions which may tighten high sea fisheries. Exploitation of under-exploited species on high seas is unlikely to influence national landings significantly.

It has been projected that total marine landings will be about 6.72 million mt in 2010 over the 1992/94 production of 7.67 million mt and there will be an overall reduction of some 950,000 mt (Table 7). The largest setback will be seen in offshore fisheries with a decrease of more than one million mt, and distant water fisheries will also decline by some 146,000 mt from 1.196 million mt in 1992/94 to 1.05 million mt in 2010. On the other hand, it is expected that coastal fisheries will demonstrate an increase of some 240,000 mt during the period under review due to the effects of stock enhancement programmes. There will also be a significant increase of 223,000 mt in the marine aquaculture sector.

It is estimated that the output of seaweeds will increase from the present level of 140,000 mt to around 160,000 mt wet weight in 2010 because of increasing demand for seaweeds and positive effects of coastal fishing grounds rehabilitation and enhancement programmes.

In summary, the domestic production of fish and shellfish in 2010 will approximate 7.87 million mt as against the projected demand for fish for direct human consumption of 8.95 million mt, a shortfall of over 1 million mt. A number of consequences will result from an insufficient supply in relation to demand, including the prices of fish and its consumption. The shortfall between supply and demand will continue to be translated into increased fish imports and fish prices. It may be expected that increasing real fish prices will result in a decline in average per-caput consumption, but the extent to which this occurs is likely to vary according to the availability of substitutes such as meat. Increasing real prices may stimulate an increase in aquaculture production.

6. Policy Framework and Action Required to Enhance Food Security Fisheries

The preceding paragraphs have indicated in broad outline the most likely trends in Japanese fisheries to 2010. It is clear that the main issues of concern to Japanese policy makers arise from the growing shortage of fish. Fisheries policy therefore should be directed to increasing production and reducing waste, including the waste of over-exploitation. The issues and policy directions presented below are comprehensive and predominantly important from the standpoint of ensuring a stable supply of fish for food security purposes. Detailed elements to address policy directions are presented in Appendix 1.

Appropriate actions to meet this challenge, many of which have already been taken, can be broadly classified as (a) efforts to increase and sustain production through fisheries management, stock enhancement, and aquaculture development; and (b) protection of the marine environment through enhancement of coastal fishing grounds.

6.1 Efforts to Increase and Sustain Production

Fisheries management

According to the Fisheries Agency (1993), many fishery resources in the waters around Japan are subject to exploitation close to or beyond the level of the maximum sustainable yield. The greater part of these threatened stocks includes small pelagics, demersal species and cephalopods. Catch per unit effort of major offshore fisheries (e.g. bottom trawling, squid jigging, gill-netting) have in most cases declined both in total catches and per-unit catch. Even when total catches rose (e.g. gill-netting), the catch per boat has declined as a result of increased fishing effort.

As part of structural adjustment programmes, the government tightened management measures in 1995 through a reduction of fishing effort as well as area and seasonal control to ensure the conservation and rational utilization of fisheries resources. The adjustment measures are intended to reduce the number of vessels to appropriate levels commensurate with the state of the fish resources and improving fishermen's economic returns. In some cases financial incentives were extended to vessels owners for scrapping their vessels. Vessel reduction programmes have been implemented for large and medium scale purse seining as well as offshore trawling which suffered from unfavourable results in catches and economic returns. The structural adjustment policy aims at introducing energy saving vessels and equipment to optimize the cost for production.

The government has also taken steps to introduce a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) system and a quota system in compliance with the UNCLOS which was ratified by Japan in 1996. A Law concerning Conservation and Management of Marine Aquatic Resources, commonly known as the Law of the TAC, came into force on 1 January 1997. Sardine, jack mackerel, mackerel, saury, Alaska pollack and crab are the fishes to which TAC is applied. The criteria of the selection of these species were (a) both production and economic value are high; (b) the state of stocks is critical and there is an urgent need for the conservation and management of the stocks; (c) they are fish which are also taken by foreign vessels in the waters around Japan. It is likely that the coverage of fish species which come under TAC will be expanded as experience is accumulated. The TAC for 1997 was determined only for Alaska pollack and crab by fishing areas.

Efforts will be continued to integrate TAC systems into the existing fisheries legislation and management mechanisms. The government allocated 1.2 billion yen in 1995 for the assessment of fishery resources. One important action to be taken is to establish a system to collect catch data, say 2 to 3 days after landing, at the central level by making full use of a computer network. To this end, in 1995 the government provided 500 million yen to install communication equipment at major fishing ports. The law of the TAC obliges fishermen to report their catches immediately. Future issues include (a) application of TAC to Chinese and Korean vessels which operate in the waters around Japan; (b) establishment of a single management authority (amalgamation of national and prefectural management bodies); (c) building early catch reporting systems; and (d) withdrawal of vessels and compensation.

Recreational fishing has gained popularity over the years (37 million sport fishermen at sea and 11 million persons on freshwaters, 1993) and it is estimated that the total amount of fish taken by sport fishermen amounted to about 35,000 mt in 1994. However, there have been serious conflicts between sport and professional fishermen over fishing grounds, navigation routes, environment degradation, mooring and the use of landing facilities. Open access enjoyed by sport fishermen is now restricted by the relevant laws enacted in 1993.

Community-based fisheries management (CFM) has achieved significant success in respect of a fair and equitable allocation of resources, improving compliance and reducing management costs. CFM has been implemented by fisheries cooperatives for many years and the government has played a catalytic role to promote research and extension.

Stock enhancement

Fish farming, "sea ranching" or aquaculture-based fisheries, which increase the harvest of existing species and new species, continue to offer significant prospects for higher catches, increased income and enhanced food security in Japan. Seed for reproduction is determined on the basis of local demand, the state of resources and its suitability to local natural conditions. Released seed is placed under stringent management controls such as banning of small-sized fish harvest, rearing of fry to a marketable size and conducting market studies.

In Japan modern fish farming was first implemented by the National Fish Farming Fisheries Centre established in Yashima, Kagawa Prefecture, in 1963 and the Seto Inland Sea was designated as a model area to develop fish farming technology. With the advent of the EEZ regime, the importance of fish farming was further recognized and prefectural fish farming centres have been deployed throughout the country to undertake applied research activities on fish farming. There are now 49 prefectural fish farming centres. In addition, there are 16 national fish farming fisheries centres which are engaged in basic research on the technological development of fish farming.

In order to facilitate fish farming the relevant legislation has been revised several times to cope with emerging problems and issues. The most recent revision (1994) focused on the following: (a) to increase the survival rate of seed released to the sea and the prevention of mass losses during hatching; (b) prudent care to be taken in the selection of sites where seeds are released, taking full account of natural conditions, ecological systems, etc. to minimize the death and loss of seed; (c) to establish plans to oblige beneficiaries (i.e. fish farmers or fisheries cooperatives) to bear part of the costs incurred for fish farming projects; (d) to establish management measures for stocks of migratory species reared by fish farming which cross over the boundaries of the prefectures; (e) research on fish disease; and (f) effective integration of the relevant regulations and ordinances (e.g. use of fishing grounds regulations, nursery grounds preservation regulations) into the law concerning fish farming.

Table 8 shows the projected supply of seed in 1998 as compared with the actual supply in 1993. The government foresees that seed production of major species will substantially increase over the next few years; the rate of increase would range from 30 to over 100 percent (except for scallop). In order to facilitate mass production of seed, the government will implement the above-mentioned activities at central, prefectural and community level. In this context, in 1995 a national fish farming fisheries centre was established in Amami Oshima to develop fish farming technology for bluefin tuna.


Demand for aquaculture products has been somewhat sluggish in recent years as a result of increased supplies and stagnation of prices. Future advances will depend on establishing a production system to combine activities relating to demand analysis, market trends and joint shipment through cooperatives. There is also a need to introduce better management measures to maximize the use of aquaculture grounds in inshore waters and develop offshore aquaculture development.

In this connection, efforts are being made to develop a model project for an overall farming system embracing the entire process from production to marketing to strengthen competitiveness. Such a model will be replicated in other areas, where appropriate. Particular attention will be paid to increasing the productivity of farm management through the improvement of ingredients of feeds and feeding methods, the use of labour-saving equipment, rational use of farm grounds and under-utilized areas for aquaculture.

Investments in research and development must be continued at a high level to cope with the outbreaks of pathogenic diseases. Although many feeds are adequate, they remain costly. The changing environment due to pollution requires continuous monitoring and research to avoid incidents such as algal blooms, red tides, etc.

Improved facilities for detecting environmental degradation of farm grounds will help to ensure stable supply and the safety of farm products. Indicators required for environment management and simple methods of measuring environmental conditions need to be developed. Research on the appropriate treatment of residual waste products in culture farms, as well as non-feeding culturing systems, should be facilitated. Contamination of fish caused by preservative materials or paints coated on fishing nets will continue to be studied. Possibilities will be explored to produce new fish species which will be resistant to disease and have a high feeding efficiency and better taste. In this respect, application of bio-technology to aquaculture is being experimented with.

Appropriate use of aquaculture grounds in coastal waters needs to be promoted through establishment of common management systems by fisheries cooperatives. Such systems can be strengthened through better coordination between research institutes and extension agents. Field surveys carried out by the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives (1994) revealed that there was a need to assist fish farmers by providing advice on stocking rates of fish farm/cage net, carrying capacity of unit area of culture grounds, methods to count the number of fish bred, inspection of culture farms, disposal of residual waste products, disposal of perished fish, removal of aquatic organisms adhering to culture installations, appropriate distances between culture installations, feed quantities, feeding methods and frequency, treatment of polluted water, etc. to increase competitiveness and permit its expansion.

Legislative and regulatory processes to control farming activities will be required to meet water quality standards for all discharges concerning nutrient loading and residual levels of chemicals and thus maintain environmental compatibility. These include treatment of pathogenic organisms and parasites with fishery medicines and pesticides, site treatment of algicides and herbicides, and banning certain construction materials and paints which contain toxic chemical components. These stringent standards for the environment have also been carried over into the safety of aquaculture products for human consumption. The Japanese authorities impose severe restrictions on manufacturing, marketing and use of fishery medicines in respect of the methods, quantity, banning period, etc.

6.2 Protection of the Marine Environment

Protection and enhancement of the coastal fishing grounds

The loss of valuable coastal fishing grounds as a result of large-scale industrial development in coastal areas, land reclamation schemes and ensuing pollution and environmental degradation led in the 1970s to recognition of the need to protect and enhance the coastal fishing grounds. A special programme to this end was enacted in 1974 with three main approaches - the placement of artificial reefs, the enhancement of fish habitats and breeding grounds and the restoration through sediment removal and dredging of degraded grounds. The programme has had positive effects upon the fisheries; production has risen, CPUE's increased, new commercially valuable species marketed; operating costs have been reduced and quality improved. The programme was implemented as part of public investment from 1976 to 1993.

As a continuation of the above programme, a new Five-Year "Coastal Fisheries Structural Improvement Programme" (CFSIP) (1994-99) has been under implementation with total costs of 251 billion yen (including institutional loans of 136 billion yen). The purpose of CFSIP is to rehabilitate fishing communities, increase self-sufficiency in food fish and enhance the linkages between regional fisheries and regional economic and industrial development activities.

The CFSIP consists of (a) rehabilitation of regional fisheries in 85 regions by improving production facilities, infrastructure and the environments of fishing communities and enhancing linkages with urban areas to make better use of regional resources; (b) strengthening of regional coordination between neighbouring prefectures and coastal villages in respect of seed production, marketing, treatment of fisheries refuse and establishing fisheries training facilities; (c) development of islands and isolated fishing villages by reinforcing fisheries production and marketing facilities, ssocial infrastructure and seed production facilities; (d) building a model fishing village by improving landing and market facilities, beach preservation, exhibition halls, recreational facilities; and (e) accelerating community-based fisheries management by improving infrastructure facilities for seed production, fish handling, processing and storage, social infrastructure and habitat construction for resource enhancement.

The Central Bank for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will provide individual fishermen, fisheries cooperatives, private firms and public entities with loans for vessel construction and acquisition, gear purchase, habitat construction, aquaculture equipment and fish production facilities.

Experience has shown the importance of encouraging fishermen's participation in the planning, siting and execution of fisheries management and development projects and in this respect fisheries cooperatives are an important vehicle for planning and implementation of CFSIP.

7. Conclusions

The projected increase in demand for direct human consumption of an additional 585,000 mt by the year 2010 might be satisfied by better fisheries management, possible increase from aquaculture (223,000 mt) and stock enhancement programmes. Delays in improving management and introducing TACs and therefore alleviating supply constraints can be expected to increase fish imports further. The role of fish imports in fostering food security will further increase in the light of reduction of fishing areas within the EEZs of other countries as well as on the high seas.

Japanese fisheries growth is likely to be slower in the future compared with that of earlier decades. This slow-down may be partly attributable to a slower demand growth, and per-caput fish consumption may remain almost unchanged from the present level or become even lower, reflecting increasing consumption of substitutes such as meat.

The prospects for an improved role of fisheries in food security could be affected by limitations on the side of production. Many of the problems associated with production are likely to be solved only in the medium and long term since it would take some time before positive effects of policy measures are observed. More immediate are the problems of ensuring the maintenance of high and sustained yields from conventional stocks. Management issues are urgent because of the increasing number of stocks requiring management action to restore yields and reduce excessive costs, and because of increasing pressures on Japanese distant water fisheries.

The aquaculture sector has made a significant contribution to the increase in national fishery production and offers considerable potential for future expansion and for food security. Higher demand for fish as compared with supply may improve the viability of aquaculture production. Fish farming offers effective means of rehabilitating deteriorated fish stocks. Stronger and refocused research on aquaculture and fish farming is identified as a key priority for fish production and improved food security.

Financial assistance for fisheries investment has an indispensable role to play in respect of strengthening basic facilities and infrastructures including artificial reefs which are essential to protect marine environment, enhance fish habitats, and ensure an improved contribution of fisheries to food security.

8. References

Fisheries White Paper for 1995 (in Japanese), Fisheries Agency, 1996.

Japanese fisheries viewed from the global level (in Japanese), compiled by Y. Taki, 1993.

Approaches to Fisheries Development in the 21st Century (in Japanese), Fisheries Agency, 1987.

Fisheries Annual Report for 1994 (in Japanese), Fisheries Agency, 1996.

Fisheries Statistics of Japan 1994, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 1996.

Fisheries Statistics Indicators for 1994, Fisheries Agency, 1996

Current trends in fishery product consumption in Japan and the future outlook, Y. Tasaka, 1996.

Safeguarding future fish supplies: key policy issues and measures, FAO, 1995.

Draft review of fisheries, 1995 - contribution to OECD Fisheries Committee, Fisheries Agency, 1996.

Fish and Seafood Products, Canada, 1997.

Appendix 1

Major Policy Measures and Action Needed for
Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries for Food Security

1. Strengthening fishery resources survey around Japan
  1. Studies on the present state of major fishery resources and future forecast of resource trends;
  2. Collection of catch statistics by fishing grounds and surveys of the distribution density of fishes in major fishing grounds by research vessels;
  3. Survey to determine the ages of fish at fish markets;
  4. Survey of eggs and fry in fishing grounds; and
  5. Modeling on the productivity of fishing grounds and their mechanisms.
2. Fisheries management
  1. Introduction of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) systems to selected fisheries (i.e offshore bottom trawling for crab and Alaska pollack, purse seining, stick-held dipnet for saury);
  2. Monitoring of catches under TAC systems and educational activities for fishermen to ensure their prompt reporting on their catches to fish markets; and
  3. Establishing a computer network for collection and analysis of data.
3. Community-based fisheries management
  1. Promotion of community-based fisheries management on a nationwide scale under close coordination between fisheries cooperatives, prefectural government and central government;
  2. Establishing a comprehensive management plan by expanding the kind of species and types of fishing; improving extension, resource surveys, infrastructure facilities related to resource conservation;
  3. Development of quantitative forecast methods for migration of pelagic species;
  4. Implementation of fish propagation projects for community-based fisheries management; reduction of the number and size of vessels commensurate to the state of resources; and
  5. Financial assistance to cover the reduction of income as a result of implementation of management measures with the allocation of 4,000 million yen.
4. Restructuring of fishery production systems
  1. Provision of subsidies in conjunction with reduction of fishing effort and changes to fishing operations which require high efficiencies - such subsidies will be used for disposal or scrapping of vessels and reducing financial burdens likely caused by such operations;
  2. Provision of subsidy for withdrawal of vessels and reduction in the size of vessels for coastal fisheries;
  3. Provision of subsidies for the withdrawal of vessels caused by difficulties in competing with foreign vessels; and
  4. Creation of working funds (100 billion yen) to be used for restructuring of medium and small-scale fisheries and provision of investment funds (16.2 billion yen).
5. Expansion of culture-based fisheries
  1. Stock enhancement
    1. Rehabilitation and establishment of national fish farming centres for technological development in fish farming which will include research programmes relating to fish disease, application of bio-technology to fisheries, etc.;
    2. Provision of subsidies for building facilities at prefectural fish farming centres to introduce new technologies;
    3. Provision of subsidies for establishing pilot projects to enhance stocks of highly migratory species; for further deployment of fish farming projects in specified waters; and
    4. Implementation of pilot projects on fishery management for the resources of released fry/fingerlings/fish.
  2. Aquaculture
    1. Formulate a development plan covering management from production to marketing and suited to specific local conditions to strengthen the competitiveness of aquaculture operations. The main purpose of the plan is to reduce costs, increase feeding efficiency, install labour-saving equipment under common use to increase the productivity of aquaculture operations;
    2. Appropriate deployment of aquaculture installations for rational use of farm grounds and effective utilization of underdeveloped waters; pilot test operations for culturing fish species suitable for that area;
    3. Inspection and monitoring methods and systems will be developed for protection of aquaculture grounds by establishing environment indicators. Likewise, pilot tests will be carried out to develop techniques for appropriate treatment of residual waste products in aquaculture farms and produce new species which will require feeding;
    4. Development of cheap and effective composite food to replace sardines, stocks of which have drastically declined in recent years;
    5. Application of bio-technology to produce new species which are resistant against disease, have high feeding efficiency and improved taste; and
    6. Conducting studies on contamination of fish by preventive material of fish nets.
  3. Stocking programmes of salmon fry
    1. Pilot projects will be operated to develop methods to increase the return rates of fish with a smaller number of released fry;
    2. Comprehensive countermeasures to reduce threats of fish disease will be established, which will include (a) information collection and dissemination regarding the breakout of disease and preventive methods, (b) technological improvements in examination, treatment and prevention of disease, and (c) inspection of imported fish seed and fry and preservation and storage of vaccine, etc.; and
    3. Increase the safety level of farmed fish by decreasing the outbreak of fish disease and providing adequate guidance on the use of pathological medicines.
6. Rational use of marine waters
  1. Establish balanced utilization of marine waters for fishing and recreational fishing through adjustments in marine water use between them; conduct surveys on catches taken by sport fishermen, impact of feeding on environment in fishing grounds;
  2. Education for guides for sport fishermen with regard to "regulations on sport fishing";
  3. Establish discipline and order in the use of fishing ports.
7. Enforcement
  1. Within EEZ of Japan
    1. Inspection will be strengthened for fishing by foreign vessels within the EEZ of Japan by deploying patrol boats, aircraft, inspection boat; and
    2. The government launched 20 patrol boats and 6 airplanes in 1996.
  2. Coastal and offshore waters
    1. The central government will give guidance and provide subsidies to the Prefectural Sea Area Fisheries Coordination Commission and Inland Water Fisheries Management Commission; and
    2. Inspection and surveillance will be intensified to detect poaching in coastal water.
  3. Monitoring, control and surveillance for foreign vessels
    1. Tighten surveillance on foreign vessels to control illegal fishing through fishermen's participation in MCS; and
    2. Reinforce the deployment of patrol boats and air craft.

Table 1. Role of fish in Japanese protein intake

(Unit: gram per person per day)










Protein intake (A) g

Animal protein intake (B) g

Animal protein as a percentage of total protein (B)/(A)

Fish protein intake (C) g

Fish protein as a percent of total protein (C)/(B)














































Source: Food Balance Sheet, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 1966.

Table 2. Changes of self-sufficiency rate of fish and shell fish

(Unit: rate: %, Quantity: 1,000 mt)










Self-sufficiency rate excluding feed

Self-sufficiency rate including feed

Domestic production




Domestic consumption



7 268

1 880



8 416



6 311

2 714



8 798



5 857

2 938



8 277



5 779

3 098



8 265



5 417

3 309



8 464



5 142

3 390



8 363













Source: Prepared based on Food Balance Sheet, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 1996.

Note: Self-sufficiency rate = domestic production/domestic consumption x 100.

Quantities are shown in live weight terms.

Domestic production, imports, exports, holdings and domestic consumption exclude feed.

Table 3. Fisheries and aquaculture production

(Unit: 1,000 mt)












Marine fisheries

Distant waters

Offshore waters

Coastal waters

Marine aquaculture

Inland capture

Inland aquaculture

6 908

6 382

1 733

2 787

1 861




9 315

8 598

3 429

3 279

1 889




10 545

9 573

3 168

4 469

1 935




11 122

9 909

2 167

5 705

2 037




12 816

11 501

2 280

6 956

2 266

1 111



11 052

9 570

1 496

6 081

1 992

1 273



9 978

8 511

1 179

5 438

1 894

1 262



9 266

7 772

1 270

4 534

1 968

1 306



8 707

7 256

1 139

4 263

1 861

1 274



8 103

6 590

1 063

3 720

1 807

1 344



Source: Annual fisheries and aquaculture statistics, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 1996.

Table 4. Japanese production by areas

(Unit: 1,000 mt)




Japan's EEZ

EEZs of other countries


Russian Federation


Rep. of Korea

New Zealand


High seas

Total domestic production

4 887

3 386

1 481

1 090






8 728

4 816

1 742







7 392

5 527

1 019








6 590

Source: Fisheries Agency and National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Association, 1997.

Table 5. Changes in demand and supply of fresh and frozen fish

(Unit: 1,000 mt live weight)




Ratio to domestic consumption

Domestic consumption


Domestic production



















1 973

2 114

2 661

2 931

2 928

3 329

3 352

3 315

3 098

3 154

3 320

3 398













2 130

2 082

2 476

2 608

2 094

2 113

1 813

1 510

1 182

1 159

1 106

1 070

1 904

1 803

2 117

2 179

1 616

1 547

1 127























1 356

1 870

2 034

2 285

2 335

2 519

2 545





































Increase between





































Source: Prepared on the basis of Food Balance Sheet, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 1996.

Note: Demand and supply do not tally because of inventories.

Table 6. Estimated demand for fish, shellfish and seaweeds in 2010

(Unit: 1,000 mt live weight)


Consumption (1992/94)

Projected demand (2010)


Fish and shellfish

- Domestic demand
- Food
- Feed
- Per-caput consumption


- Domestic demand
- Food
- Non-food
- Per-caput consumption


11 870
8 365
3 505




12 130
8 950
3 180







Source: Food Balance Sheet, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 1996.

Table 7. Projected production of fish and fishery products in 2010

(Unit: 1,000 mt live weight)




Domestic fish and shellfish production

Distant waters

Offshore waters

Coastal waters

Marine aquaculture

Inland capture

Inland aquaculture

Domestic seaweeds production

Marine fisheries

Marine aquaculture

8 586

1 196

4 743

1 731







7 870

1 050

3 700

1 970









-1 043








Source: Fisheries Agency, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 1996.

Table 8. Estimated amounts of seed supplies in 1999

(Unit: million)

Actual output

Estimated amount

Size of seed

Fish Sea bream


Crustacean Prawn

Blue crab


Shellfish Scallop



Top shell

Others Sea urchin






3 232










3 417















Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 1996.

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