Japan is moving towards individually transferable quotas for some species. TAC for bluefin tuna is divided among prefectures. If the TAC is exceeded, the fish should be released. If larger bluefin tuna exceed the quota, the location and number must be reported to the agency. In the case of large catches, the agency may also order a period of ban on keeping large bluefin tuna.

For aquaculture, Japan’s growth strategy focuses on increasing exports of yellowtail, sea bream, scallops and cultured pearls. In addition, the Fisheries Agency is trying to respond to the economic decline of fishing villages by promoting recreational fishing and other fisheries-related tourism.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the general consumption pattern has shifted from eating out to eating at home in Japan. All over Japan, there is a growing demand for home-use frozen food that can be stored, is easy to prepare, and is convenient.

Sales of fresh seafood temporarily increased sharply in FY2020 due to refraining from going out and self-catering, but turned to a downward trend again in FY2021, dropping by 4%. Consumers are also buying more seafood online in response to the pandemic.

As for exports, Japan’s seafood exports fell in 2020, but recovered again in 2021 due to fluctuations in demand in destination countries related to COVID-19. The pandemic has also changed Japan’s work patterns, with more technical intern trainees staying in Japan due to immigration restrictions, making it an important source of jobs for Japan. As COVID-related immigration restrictions have eased in Japan, agencies have made efforts to facilitate the entry of more seafood workers.

As a result, the self-sufficiency rate of edible seafood has been affected, and it has recovered slightly to 57% in FY2020. Japan’s self-sufficiency rate peaked at 113% in 1964, then fell to a low of 53% for three consecutive years from 2000 until 2002. Annual per capita consumption of meat surpassed that of seafood for the first time in 2011 and continues to grow. Since 2013, food prices in Japan have been rising, especially for meat and seafood.

Prices are rising leading to seafood consumption declines.

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According to the “Awareness and Intention Survey on Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries” conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, people who purchase seafood do so for reasons of health and taste, while those who purchase less seafood due to meat being cheaper and seafood is expensive and difficult to cook.

As a result, the agency seeks to promote seafood that is convenient to prepare while emphasizing the health benefits of fish, including the status of EPA and DHA as “functional foods.”

The white paper also highlighted the lingering effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake. 70% of the physical capacity of the fish processing plant had recovered to at least 80% capacity before the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The main reasons were shortages of raw materials (decreased catches), loss of market during periods of product unavailability, and shortage of labor.

Following the government’s recent decision to release treated cooling water from the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea, the agency has announced a move to dispel radiation rumors and safety concerns. Continuing to work with the FDA seeks to lift bans on countries that still have local seafood, citing Japan’s system that prevents food from reaching the market with levels above safe levels of radioactivity.

In June 2022 some of these efforts appear to be working, as on 29 March the UK lifted radionuclide-related restrictions on Japanese food. Japan claims that seafood caught in areas near the Fukushima accident is now safe to eat in normal amounts.

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Source: Seafood Source

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