Japan Looks to Improve Key Tuna Fisheries as Part of Blossoming Sustainable Seafood Movement

Already on the map as the largest port for fresh long-line and pole-and-line tuna landings in Japan, Nachi Katsuura port in Wakayama prefecture is now home to Japan’s first tuna Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP).

The Nachi Katsuura Longline Albacore Tuna FIP, launched today, comprises 10,000 metric tons of Albacore tuna caught in Japanese waters by fishing company No. 78 Kaiou Maru—tuna which will soon be more sustainably managed due to the efforts of the fishery and project collaborators Yamasa Wakiguchi Co. Ltd., Seiyu GK (a Japanese subsidiary of Walmart), Ocean Outcomes, and Seafood Legacy.

“I’ve been fishing Albacore for over 40 years,” said Mr. Nishida, a fishing captain at No.78 Kaiou Maru, “and there’s undoubtedly been a decline in catch volumes over those years. This has led to fewer jobs in the industry, so we absolutely need to invest in sustainable tuna management so that the resource recovers and the fishery can continue to provide us benefits.”

Due to a variety of factors including overfishing, ineffective management by Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs), and opaque regulation, many tuna species have populations which are at fractions of historical levels. Albacore stocks, however, largely remain stable and projects such as this will help ensure the numbers of fish and the jobs they provide flourish without adverse effects on the marine environment, so that Albacore tuna can continue to be a pillar of Japanese economy and cuisine.

“Working proactively to develop systems and fisheries which are both earth-friendly and human-friendly is part of who we are,” said Kumie, Wama, VP of Corporate Affairs at Seiyu, “so we’re excited to be involved in this FIP and to continue leading fisheries and aquaculture improvement efforts in Japan through project funding and product sales.”

Seiyu will be selling FIP product caught and processed by project participants in their Tokyo area stores starting in November this year.

“Support from an industry leading retailer like Seiyu is vital to ensuring the Japanese sustainable seafood movement grows,” says Wakao Hanaoka, the CEO of Seafood Legacy whose group helped broker the deal the get FIP product into 20 Seiyu stores in Tokyo metropolitan area. “Seiyu not only provides an important relationship for the fishery, but they also have the ability to raise awareness amongst consumers.”

And scalable and replicable improvement models such as the Nachi Katsuura Longline Albacore Tuna FIP will play an important role helping to ensure adequate sustainable seafood supply is available for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“There’s a lot of attention being given right now to tuna fisheries, Japanese seafood, and the Olympic Games, so it’s the perfect time for industry, fisheries, government and NGOs to come together and make meaningful changes to Japanese seafood, as it truly is in everyone’s interest to do as much,” said Shunji Murakami, Ocean Outcomes’ Japan Program Director. “We’re thrilled to work with this group to ensure sound fishery science and traceable fishing practices are the baseline for this change.”

Working with Yamasa Wakiguchi Co. Ltd, a leading tuna processor in the region, Ocean Outcomes completed an updated pre-assessment of the fishery which laid out opportunities for more sustainable practices including documenting retained species, developing a precautionary harvest approach, and monitoring fishery interactions with seabirds and sea turtles (i.e. independent observers). Documented through the FIP workplan, progress towards these actions will be implemented over the next five years with project participants meeting biannually for review.

“This region, the resource, the fishery, and the relationships they foster are truly a thing of beauty,” said Koutarou Wakiguchi, the CEO of Yamasa Wakiguchi, “but there was anxiety surrounding the potential decline of the fishery. We’re thrilled to be part of this project and part of the larger Japanese sustainable seafood movement, ensuring sustainable fishing practices are financially viable so that local fisheries and seafood can continue to be a foundational part of Japan.”

Additional Resources:

Download a PDF of this announcement.

Media Contacts

  • No. 78 Kaiou Maru - Email
  • Kumie Wama, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Seiyu GK - Email
  • Wakao Hanaoka, CEO, Seafood Legacy Co., Ltd. - Email
  • Shunji Murakami, Japan Program Director, Ocean Outcomes - Email
  • Yamasa Wakiguchi Co., Ltd - Email

Media Photos

Nachi Katsuura Longline Albacore Tuna FIP Right click here and "Save Link As" to download. © Ocean Outcomes

Nachi Katsuura Longline Albacore Tuna FIP Right click here and "Save Link As" to download. © Ocean Outcomes

Nachi Katsuura Longline Albacore Tuna FIP Right click here and "Save Link As" to download. © Ocean Outcomes

Nachi Katsuura Longline Albacore Tuna FIP Right click here and "Save Link As" to download. © Ocean Outcomes

Nachi Katsuura Longline Albacore Tuna FIP Right click here and "Save Link As" to download. © Ocean Outcomes