If you want to witness a display of marine abundance and diversity unrivaled nearly anywhere on planet earth head straight to the heart of Tokyo, grab your rubber boots and take a stroll through the cavernous Toyosu fish market.
Toyosu market stands at the center of a global seafood trade that reaches nearly every corner of the ocean, every fishing ground, and handles almost every conceivable seafood product, from wild Kamchatka sockeye salmon to giant tuna from the Mediterranean to Maine lobster. Few countries have a bigger influence on global seafood markets, international fishery issues, and overall ocean health than Japan. The freshest and highest quality seafood in Toyosu still come from waters surrounding the Japanese archipelago, which hold some of the most productive fishing grounds on the planet. But domestic fisheries have been in decline for decades, a legacy of overfishing, degraded ecosystems, and negative socio-economic factors. More than half of Japanese fisheries are collapsed or over-fished according to the United Nations Fisheries and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO).
For the average Japanese consumer, this has meant higher prices at the market and increasing difficulties in enjoying traditional “washoku” food items. “Unagi” (eel), for example, saw a peak commercial catch of 3,387 metric tons in 1961 but that catch was reduced to a measly 71 tons in 2018. Meanwhile, the price of Unagi quadrupled in the last decade alone. For coastal communities and fishery cooperatives across Japan that have beared the brunt of the fishery crisis, the situation is even more severe; a whopping 800,000 Japanese jobs have been lost since the fishing industry’s peak in the 1960s.
Our work in Japan is focused around developing and implementing sustainable seafood and fisheries initiatives.
This includes buyer engagement programs, exploring solutions towards more sustainable practices with government, industry, and fishery leaders, and developing and implementing fishery and aquaculture improvement projects.
We implement this work through close partnership with Seafood Legacy, a Japanese consulting firm specializing in sustainable seafood and fisheries. The partnership arrangement between O2 and Seafood Legacy provides a flexible and effective avenue to implement our joint projects and access domestic Japanese funding, while maintaining a strong, accountable, and international team approach to our sustainable fisheries and seafood work in the region.
This ensures our initiatives are effective and our outcomes durable. Working with Seafood Legacy, we collaboratively fund, design, test and implement a variety of sustainable seafood and fisheries projects throughout Japan. These include, fishery and aquaculture improvement projects to improve management policies and revitalize fishing communities and engaging Japanese industry and other supply chain actors towards developing and implementing sustainable policy.
Sustainable Fisheries in Japan
To learn more about the complex issues facing Japanese fisheries see our report titled "Opportunities for Sustainable Fisheries in Japan" which provides analysis and practical recommendations to restore ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities across the Japanese archipelago.
Japan Rapid Assessment Summaries
We conduct rapid assessments (see the Japanese fishery summaries here) of strategically important fishery species to better articulate the fisheries landscape and to clearly map out the potential for fishery improvement and third party certification of fisheries targeting these species. These assessments will help inform policy, management, funding, and the direction of sustainable seafood work across the globe.
O2 and Seafood Legacy Japanese Fishery Improvement Projects:
- Miyagi Onagawa Coho Salmon AIP
- Nachi Katsuura Albacore Longline FIP
- Tokyo Bay Sea Perch FIP
- Tomamae Giant Pacific Octopus FIP
Stories from the Field: Japan
- Improvement Efforts Lead to More Sustainable Fishing Practices in Japanese Sea Perch and Tuna Fisheries
- Ocean Outcomes Japan Merges With Seafood Legacy to Form Leading Japanese Sustainable Seafood and Fisheries Partnership
- Miyagi Onagawa Coho Salmon AIP Product Hits Japanese Supermarkets
- Japan Looks to Improve Key Tuna Fisheries as Part of Blossoming Sustainable Seafood Movement
- Seiyu to Support Japan's First Aquaculture Improvement Project
- Traditional Japanese Eel Festival Draws to a Close
- New Study Reveals High Risk of Illegal Seafood Imports Entering Japanese Market
- Building Traceability into Japanese Fisheries
- Tokyo Bay Sea Perch FIP Product Hits Japanese Supermarkets
- First-Ever Fishery Improvement Project Launched in Japan
- Opportunities for Sustainable Fisheries in Japan
- Iki Island Fishermen Take Inspired Action To Preserve Precious Bluefin Tuna
- Growing Potential for Sustainable Fishery Production in the Far East
Meet Seafood Legacy
Seafood Legacy is a Tokyo-based social venture established in 2015 specializing in sustainable seafood and fisheries. Seafood Legacy provides sustainable seafood consulting services to marine-related businesses, producers and NGOs to strengthen the connections of marine ecosystems, economies and local communities. Seafood Legacy designs regional solutions which meet international standards and are tailored to the unique Japanese environment via a non-competitive platform designed to solve mutual issues facing various stakeholders. www.seafoodlegacy.com