New Research Finds Japan’s Fishing Fleet Could Sustainably Increase Profits by Billions
Policies that give fishers an incentive to conserve can increase profits and fish populations
(TOKYO – August 19, 2019) New research published today in the journal Marine Policy suggests that Japan’s fishing fleets could generate an additional $5.5 billion (USD) in annual profits while supporting a 30% increase in populations of fish in Japan’s waters by 2065 if they adopt policies that promote conservation and offer fishermen the right incentives.
Authored by scientists at Environmental Defense Fund, Iwate University, Norwegian School of Economics and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, the study examines the potential effects of different approaches to managing Japan’s fisheries on catch, profits and the amounts of fish left in the water to support healthy ecosystems. The results suggest that adopting policies that incorporate science-based fisheries management into Japan’s current rights-based management system could increase profits compared to the status quo.
In December 2018, EDF applauded the Japan government’s passage of the most significant reforms to its fisheries laws in 70 years — signaling their leadership in helping shift the Asia Pacific region toward sustainable fishing for the future. This new research could help shape the implementation of that law.
“As Japan moves to implement a historic update to its national fishing law, we have a tremendous opportunity to create policies that will sustain our fishing fleets and our oceans,” said Kazuhiko Otsuka, Japan director at EDF. “This paper offers evidence that fishermen and fish can both do better in the long term if we get management right.”
This paper helps make the case for how Japan can improve sustainability while meeting economic goals of fishing communities. Science-based fisheries management that gives fishers a direct incentive for conservation — one of the policy approaches simulated in the study — has been successfully deployed around the world to achieve similar goals, including in the United States.
“Japan is one of the most important fishing countries in the world,” said Rod Fujita, a co-author of the study and the director of research and development for EDF’s Oceans Program. “By ensuring the sustainability of its marine fisheries, Japan can not only revitalize its own fishing sector, but would be in a position to lead efforts to improve the conservation and management or marine resources worldwide.”
“Conservation measures like those evaluated in the study can increase profits and yields, even though many fishing communities will have to reduce their catches in the short term in order to rebuild depleted stocks,” said Otsuka. “The goal is that sustainable Japanese fisheries will enable rich fishing grounds to recover and future fishing communities to prosper.”
“This is the first study to analyze the bio-economic potential of Japanese fisheries based on directions of the last year’s policy reform,” said Gakushi Ishimura, a co-author of the study and associate professor at Iwate University. “We will continue our study to extend the analysis to the prefectural levels to investigate regional impacts. By developing a practical policy and resource management tools for building sustainable fisheries in Japan, we hope to establish fisheries science as a practical science to the society.”
Authors of this paper are Kanae Tokunaga, Environmental Defense Fund; Gakushi Ishimura, Iwate University; Shigehide Iwata, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology,; Keita Abe, Norwegian School of Economics; Kazuhiko Otsuka, Environmental Defense Fund; Kristin Kleisner, Environmental Defense Fund; and Rod Fujita, Environmental Defense Fund.
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