New Japanese fishery improvement project targets blue shark, swordfish

Photo: Seafood Legacy

Tokyo-based aquaculture consultancy Seafood Legacy and a number of local partners have launched Japan’s first longline blue shark and swordfish fishery improvement project (FIP).

The city of Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture represents the largest catch of fresh swordfish in Japan, with 73 per cent of the country’s total 3,033-tonne catch for 2019 being landed there. It is also known as the largest place of production of blue shark whose meat is used for surimi.

Twelve tuna longlining vessels will participate in the FIP.

According to the stock assessment conducted by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species, the main target species for the fishery, swordfish and blue sharks in the northwestern Pacific, are not overfished. However, many countries have been making an effort for the conservation, sustainability, and transparency of the resources of shark, which is the cooperative’s main catch target.

The project aims to achieve Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification by 2026 by stabilising the fishery and demonstrating its sustainability. This will be made possible through increased collaboration with counterparts in Taiwan, which also catches blue sharks, and improved data-collecting in relation to catch information and environmental impact.

Seafood Legacy’s partners on the FIP include the Kesennuma Distant-Water Fisheries Cooperative, the Miyagi Offshore Tuna Fisheries Association, and Iwate University’s Resource Economics and Policy Group.

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