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Fishing In Japan

Fishing Business In Japan
article by:
Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Ed. Karen Christensen and David Levinson
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Last modified:March 13, 2017

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Fishing Business In Japan

Fishing Business In Japan

Japan’s fishing business is broken up into four kinds: coastal fisheries, distant-water fishing, aquaculture, and recreational fishing. Coastal fisheries of numerous species have continued since the nation ‘s premodern age, whereas distant-water fishing beyond its current exclusive economic zones (EEZ) began around the 1920s and rose drastically during the food shortage of the immediate post–World War II period. Aquaculture has long been another characteristic of the Japanese fishing business, the earliest type being the farming of seaweed. Japan’s recreational fishing business may be the biggest in quantity of sales and most varied on the planet, including everything from charter boat companies and gear and lure production and sales, to various fee-based fishing park operations.

The coastal fisheries sector was characterized primarily by small-scale independent boat owners arranged into township fishery cooperatives that together take care of wholesale fish dealers. Japan’s coastal fishing has suffered since the 1970s from both depletion of resources as well as the shortage of successors. Recently, the removal of trade barriers on fishery products as well as the decrease in government subsidies to the fishing sector also has driven coastal fishermen to switch professions. Japanese trading businesses and supermarket chains have avoided the wholesale dealers, thus increasingly challenging the hierarchically organized national fish supply networks of the cooperatives.

Since the late 1970s, distant-water fishing has experienced the double setbacks of unilateral proclamations by many coastal states of 200-nautical mile fishery zones as well as the adoption of the EEZ theory in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982. Coastal states’ drawn-out control over fishery resources in contiguous seas reduced Japan’s free access to distant-water fish stocks.

UNCLOS also laid the legal basis for the managing of anadromous species (species that go between fresh water and sea, including salmon). Authority for the managing of such species was provided to the coastal states in whose rivers such species originated. Japan’s foreign salmon fishing stopped as discussions with the then Soviet Union failed. Highly migratory species (including tuna) were put under joint management by coastal states, which resulted in the imposition of international catch quotas and regulations on tuna fishing practices. Japan is an associate of all such international tuna management bodies. In line with the GGT Newsletter of 25 March 1999, some Japanese tuna boats dropped from about 1150 in 1980 to 661 in 1997.

Japan’s leading fishing businesses have transformed themselves into trading firms dealing in fishery products and have invested in the fishing sectors of other states. The high expenses of using Japan-based boats led to this tendency. Retired tuna boats are sold to owners in other countries, who in turn have filed their boats in nations like Taiwan and Korea that don’t belong to the international management bodies.

Two sea bass fishing boats in Tokyo Bay in 1994. 

Fishing businesses by these boat owners continue to provide tuna to the Japanese marketplace through the marketing firms. Japan’s Fishery Agency as well as the Fishery Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contemplate accessibility to distant-water fishery resources a matter of national security and work together to defend the sustainable utilization of fish stocks in international waters against both handle “pirate” fishing and dogmatic conservationists.

Aquaculture is replacing the diminishing coastal fisheries sector. Japan has an extensive history of aquaculture, from the farming of seaweed, pearl, and carp to more modern fish farming of yellowtail, snapper, jack mackerel, flatfish, and eel. Additionally, coastal waters are stocked with farm-raised juvenile snapper, flat fish, crayfish, abalone, and other species, to be afterward picked. This has created conflicts between professional and recreational fishermen, the latter being accused of larceny and free riding. The aquaculture sector has endured from the development of noxious planktons and alga brought on by nutrient-rich home wastewater. The sector has also been accused of ruining reef ecosystems with organic wastes from the fish feed. Consumers are increasingly alarmed by the industry’s use of antibiotics in fish feed.

Minn Kota in Japan
Minn Kota in Japan

The recreational fishing industry is growing rapidly. While amateur fishing, in general, has been considered an action for senior men, several developments have slowly changed this perception. American bass fishing using artificial lures has become popular with a high number of younger Japanese and raising societal freedom, and disposable income has led to the growing quantities of girls in amateur fishing. Charter boat companies supply private charter, occasional booking, and individual private services, targeting various species of fish. Operators of such enterprises have joined environmentalists in opposing various land reclamation jobs.

Japanese-made fishing equipment has worldwide popularity. Computer-based high technology (using computer-assisted design techniques together with microcomputers in the fishery reels) and original composite material are lavishly applied to reels and poles, and much small fishing apparatus have been patented.

Japan’s fishing industry, like quite a few other businesses, is going through a major transformation to attain higher added value. The age of fishing as a primary and commodity sector is passing, as well as the growing industrial aquaculture, production of recreational fishing gear, and fishing-related services define the diversifying Japanese fishing industry.

Fishing Business In Japan