Finalist, Seafood Champion Awards Innovation Category

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This group of Japanese seafood sustainability advocates is actively lobbying advisors to the Japanese parliament to influence them to implement a fisheries individual quota system based on scientific data, similar to those used in the E.U. and North America. The group’s goal is to move Japan to a sustainable seafood industry. In addition to a yearly conference, the group publishes and promotes seafood sustainability information through the internet. Its five members include academics and seafood restaurant owners in Japan.

The group also has a growing base of supporters that includes seafood restaurants, scholars, fishermen, politicians, media, and seafood professionals. Very influential and famous people are included and show keen interest. Most were surprised to learn how poorly managed Japanese fisheries are.

SSF conferenceBeyond working for legislative change, the group works to educate the Japanese public about the issues in seafood sustainability. Founding member Mr. Katsukawa, a researcher into seafood sustainability at Tokyo Kaiyo University, appears frequently on major Japanese TV networks including NHK. They have successfully gained the attention of Japanese media, with interviews and articles appearing in the major Japanese newspaper Asahi, seafood industry publications, and local newspapers. They are active on Facebook and their articles on sustainbility have an extremely large and growing viewership.

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Umino Sachiwo Miraini Nokosukai (Sustainable Seafood for the Future SSF) has informed the reality of overfishing by all measures. Individual quota system is the agenda in Japan now if this system should be applicable. All of conservative scientists are rather negative.
They are deeply connected with the government, the Fishery Agency. Member of SSF has insisted on the fact based on correct information from all over the world. The world bank published that the catch projection in 2030 compared with 2010 by region. The average is 23.6% up. However there is only one area shows minus 9%. That is Japanese region.

SSF insists on stop catching Pacific blue fin tuna at spawning ground in Japan. SSF certificated all necessary data which can indicate how dangerous it is to catch at spawning ground whose stock has been declared as red list in 2014. SSF was criticized and got negative comment from the related people including government. They said it is not critical matter.

However quota to be set is always too much against actual catch. So, virtually fishermen can catch fish as they like while competing each other. There are some regulation such as fishing period or fishing gears. But those controls so called input or technical control do not make sense without setting individual quota based on scientific advice.

As SSF is extremely confident for what they are doing are very dangerous for sustainability. It is definitely necessary for sustainability and for Japanese Seafood industry. Therefore SSF keeps protesting until sustainability is completed. The number of SSF face book “Like” is more than 10,000 and increasing its figure steadily. So it is very influential and those who against us cannot ignore.

Japan was the biggest fishing country for 16 years between 1970s-1980s. Most of Japanese believe that we were kicked out from good fishing area from all over the world where Japanese fishing companies found and developed. This is correct. Western Africa, New Zealand, South America, Alaska etc. 200 miles restricted zone has changed Japanese seafood industry. However there were almost no idea on sustainability. Since 200 miles restricted zone was applied in 1977, Japanese vessels started to catch more fish within Japanese EEZ. So the peak of catch was in 1984 and approx.13 million ton which was caught after 200 miles zone.

Japan has destroyed many seafood resources such as herring, sardine, Alaskan pollack , blue fin tuna, eel.. In Japan according to white paper issued by government, 90% of fishermen recognized that the amount of fish is decreasing. However approx.50% believe the reason why is the change of environment and 30% believe that the reason is over catch. Though this must be opposite, the conservative scholars insist that self-control by fishermen has been admired in the world, so fishermen should have not done over catch. Big question is if there is someone who admires Japanese fishery management.

Is it only in Japan where environmental factors deeply affected?

The activity by SSF is very much innovative I believe. SSF believes it possible to change public-opinion as long as we keep doing what we have done. More and more, many professionals including scholars from different category strongly wish to join voluntary.

What local and/or international partners does SSF work with?

SSF keeps contact with Monterey Bay Aquarium, Packard Foundation, Pew, EDF other NGO internationally. SSF advises politicians of a Diet member. SSF helps activity of voluntary fishermen group for sustainability.

How well does this SSF and its work demonstrate the qualities of the category?

Activity of SSF makes Fishery Agency of government hectic. They could have done what they like as there was no NGO who has given influential second opinion. Influential politicians understand SSF activities. Fishery Agency are afraid of them. So they are forced to change themselves because of SSF.

In what ways has SSF positively affected, or mitigated negative impacts of, the seafood industry?

Local fishermen ask for SSF to support. SSF have some capable members on this field. Quite some seafood industries have noticed activity of SSF. Quite some people not always directly related with seafood industry ask for SSF to do something they can cooperate with.

In what way could SSF’s story inspire others and communicate successes achieved in sustainable seafood?

Even if an association is not big or not so professional at the beginning, it is possible to change for sustainability as long as there is strong will. Members can help each other and collect necessary information. Major media including newspaper, TV, radio, magazine have shown keen interest to SSF activity.

How would SSF’s work serve as a replicable model for others who want to have a similar impact?

Mr.Takeuchi, chairman of SSF, tried to donate for sustainability activity at his company’s anniversary to respect seafood. But he could not find any candidate. Then he decided to establish SSF with Mr.Katsukawa who is co-founder of SSF.

Mr.Takeuchi has collected some influential members to proceed. As long as there is a very strong will it is possible to use SSF as a replicable model.

It will worth doing to educate others to be replicable. SSF members have good knowledge. Actually lots of lectures have already been done in Japan.

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