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GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

Japan fisheries statistics: production, consumption and trade

Japan is one of the world’s top seafood markets and was the 2nd largest seafood importer by value in 2016. The main suppliers to the Japanese market are China, the United States of America, Chile and Thailand, while the top imported products are shrimp, tuna, salmon and trout. Japan’s fish exports are marginal in comparison, with the total value of Japanese imports in 2016 8 times greater than that of its exports.

Japanese production totaled 4.65 million tonnes in 2015, of which 91% was accounted for by capture fisheries. The fishing industry is focused on supplying the domestic market and 90% of the catch is consumed locally.

Seafood products have traditionally played an important role in the Japanese diet, but according to the Japan Fisheries Agency, consumption has been on the decline since 2001 when it peaked at 40.2 kg per capita per year, falling to 27.3 kg per capita per year by 2014. However, Japan is still known as the world's biggest consumer of tuna, which is an essential element of its food culture.

Late 2007 saw the establishment of the Marine Eco-Label Japan (MEL Japan) which, according to the Japan Fisheries Association, aims to certify Japanese commercial fishing operations that actively address the protection of marine resources and ecosystems. At the same time, MEL Japan caters to the needs of foreign markets by promoting exports of sustainable Japanese seafood. So far, 23 products have been certified at the production stage and 53 at the distribution and processing stage (source: Japan Fisheries Agency).

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