Areas of Focus


Few countries in the world are more important to the future of the global fisheries and the sustainability of global seafood supplies than Japan. To ensure sustainable seafood supply chains in Japan, we’re working closely with Seafood Legacy, a Japanese sustainable seafood and fishery consultancy, to develop and implement scientifically-rigorous sustainable fisheries and seafood initiatives.


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:

Stories from the Field: Japan

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.