How Japan’s fishing industry is struggling to recover
RAYMOND, Maine — Japan has the largest fishing industry in the world. The size of the industry and Japan’s dependence on its profits make it vulnerable to “overfishing”. As Japan fights overfishing while preserving its economy, its government and organizations like Ocean Outcomes are working to protect Japan’s fishing industry and maintain reliable jobs.
Struggles in Japan’s fishing industry
The Japanese fishing industry faces several problems, the most important being overfishing. Overfishing occurs when anglers catch fish faster than the fish can reproduce, leaving fewer fish available to anglers. Overfishing damages ecosystems and can harm the livelihoods of those who depend on the fishing industry.
The other significant issue facing the Japanese fishing industry is the damage caused by the 2011 earthquake that triggered the meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. When the nuclear power plant melted, the waste contaminated the surrounding water and killed several tons of fish. All previously contaminated areas are now slowly reopening for public use since the waters are at healthy pH levels that will not harm fish and wildlife.
With a struggling fishing industry in Japan, the economy is at risk if fishing ecosystems do not recover.
Is the fishing industry worth its size?
The fishing industry in Japan is worth $14 billion. The Japanese eat two-thirds of the fish, while the rest goes overseas through shipping and trade. Unfortunately, the number of fish caught between 1985 and 2017 fell from 12.8 million to 4.3 million tonnes. Despite the slight downward trend in fish produced in Japan, the industry has remained stable in terms of employment. There were over 140,000 workers in the fishing industry in Japan in 2019.
The average salary in the fishing industry in Japan is just over $39,000 per year. The salary helps keep the poverty level manageable, as it was last reported in 2020 at 15%. Salaries vary depending on length of time in the fishing industry, family size and location. Wages have remained stable as the fishing industry has struggled with its labor and production since the late 1980s.
Helping Japan’s Fishing Industry
One of the recommendations for tackling the problem of overfishing facing the fishing industry in Japan came from the journal Marine Policy. The idea of reducing fishing in the short term is simple and could prove profitable in the future. Reducing fishing in the short term is an idea that major Japanese fishing companies take seriously because even short-term change maximizes profits within decades. Fishing companies need not fear short-term cuts that limit and significantly reduce their income. In addition, reducing fishing in Japanese waters would allow the public to see the effect of fully treated water and regain confidence in the impact of returned water on ecosystems and the environment.
Ocean Outcomes (OO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping commercial fishing operations and local communities preserve natural life and keep operations going. OO works with Seafood Legacy and UMITO Partners, two Japanese consulting firms that help ensure fiscal stability and a robust Japanese economy while saving as much of the fishing industry as possible.
The efforts of the OO and local fisheries through the implementation of marine policy suggestions can have significant implications for all parties involved. Reducing fishing in the short term will preserve ecosystems, jobs and wages in the long term. Reducing fishing in the fishing industry in Japan will eliminate overfishing, continue to reduce the poverty rate through saved wages, and generate confidence in the Japanese government and fishing industries to continue production and work. .
– Clara Mulvihill