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Shuji Yamada, Director-General of Fisheries Agency, Comments on New Year

January 5, 2009

The fisheries production structure of our nation has been weakening in the face of the stagnation of resources and the aging of the populace in this segment. Facing these realities, increases in fishing operation costs, as a result of the staggering fuel prices, made the conditions surrounding fishery businesses even harder to swallow. There is also a concern if the worldwide financial downturn may negatively affect our country's growing seafood export trend. On the other hand, we have seen a new movement of direct business relations between fisheries cooperatives and mass retailers in various areas of the country. Resiliently dealing with these changes in conditions, we aim for a continuous and stable supply of seafood that supports our nation's healthy diet, as well as for establishment of the powerful fishery industry and vibrant fishing villages. Therefore, we intend to proceed with the aggressive policy reforms based on the basic plans this year again.

First of all, we will strengthen the fishery management practices and foster human resources by promoting energy efficiencies and structural reorganization. Speedy conversion to energy efficiencies and recommendation of collaborative operations will enable the reform of the present management structure, which is greatly dependent on fuel. We make sure to implement steady structural reform of fishing boats and operations. Continuous execution of measures for management stability and further encouragement of participation in the mutual aid system will be conducted.

Secondly, measures for processing, distribution, and consumption will be taken; consumers will enjoy fresh and safe domestic seafood products by creation of numerous network routes between producers and consumers as well as further support of health control through aids to introduction of HACCP. Additionally, improvement of fishermen's earnings will be realized by fortifying sales power on a producer level with promotion of direct sales.

Thirdly, management and recovery of resources will be implemented. The ongoing "resources recovery plan" to support the fishing halt and boat reduction will continue. The following measures will be also executed: decreases in and prevention of fisheries damages inflicted by sea lions, foreign fishes, and cormorants; assistance to the aquaculture sector by utilizing untapped resources for fish feed; and encouragement of inland water fisheries through betterment of fishing environment in rivers and lakes. As for resources management on an international level, exercising our country's leadership, we aim to evaluate marine resources, reduce excessive fishing, and control illegal and unreported fishing operations.

Lastly, comprehensive improvement of fishing ports, grounds, and villages and realization of their multifaceted functions will be executed. Operations that enhance the productivity of resources will be the main focus. Formation of safe and exuberant fishing villages through reinforcement of disaster prevention and improvement of living conditions will be put into practice. Revitalization of fisheries of remote islands will be also carried out. With regard to conservation of marine forests and tidelands, we will provide new subsidies this year. Moreover, regarding negotiations of WTO and FTA, we intend to continue the negotiations, minding sustainability of marine resources and roles that our country's fisheries and fishing villages play.

The original articles was published on January 5, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Akira Oze, Chairman of Japan Canners Association, Comments on New Year

January 5, 2009

Looking back on last year, it took only a second for once-in-a-millennium financial crisis to create global economic unrest, weakening Japan's real economy. Even now, we are unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel toward financial recovery. Having financial and employment insecurities, consumers are reluctant to spend their money and they are in a defensive mode. However, in these unfavorable circumstances, consumers' conspicuous interests in maintaining a healthy diet and improvements in food quality and assurance are growing stronger than we imagined. As a food supplier and agent of consumer needs, it is of great importance that we alleviate consumers' concerns over food and regain and even enhance their trust before anything else. For this purpose, it is imperative that we truly understand our consumers. Based on the premise that consumer psychology tremendously fluctuates, depending on changes in times and environment, we must make every possible effort to present quality products of new values.

Trends of "a dwindling birthrate and a growing elderly population" and "rising consciousness of health," in the face of a shrinking Japanese population, are occurring simultaneously and quickly, and creating changes in dietary habits. I believe that the key concepts of these trends are "health and taste" and "individualized and instant food." Though there is a slight decline in production of jarred and canned food, many of retort food products present the second key concept of "individualized and instant food." When another concept of "health and taste" is added on to the retort foods, new demand can be generated. With the trend of a lower birthrate and a growing aging population, the potential of our products will be reexamined. We intend to reevaluate advantages and disadvantages of jarred, canned and retort products from consumers' standpoint. Furthermore, we will continue improving our products to meet the consumers' demand of "more tasty, convenient, and healthy" products by providing high-value products which accentuate "more" of "more tasty, convenient, and healthy." We, as an industry, hope to appeal to consumers for goodness of jarred, canned, and retort products in this way.

The original article was published on January 5, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Isao Nakasu, President of Japan Fisheries Association, Comments on New Year

January 5, 2009

Last year was quite a difficult year for the fishing industry. The skyrocketing fuel costs from spring to summer caused insurmountable distress to fishing operations. A nationwide fishing strike, an aggressive reaction to the staggering fuel expenses, was responded with thorough understanding, unprecedented countermeasures, and large supplemental budget by the government. Financial crisis that originated in the US put an end to such "resources bubbles" as crude oil and crops, which were a target of investing. That contributed to a sudden plunge in the fuel prices; however the accelerated weakening of the world economy subsequently took place, leading to a distressed situation of lower consumer spending.

Additionally, last year accidents and scandals involving food safety and assurance happened one after the other. Seafood products were not outside of the picture, either. For a food provider, it must be the most fundamental behavioral principle to gain consumers' confidence in product quality and, toward this end, to provide proper product labeling.

A recent growing trend in the worldwide demand of seafood gave us an opportunity to be cognizant of the finite nature of marine resources and the importance of their sustainability. The rising prices of crops on a global scale we all witnessed last year, made us realize the fact that the foundation of food supply, without which we couldn't survive, was actually weak. It is asked of the fishing industry that efforts to aggressively approach domestic and international marine resources and ensure resources sustainability be further made.

It is expected that this year there will be more of the continuous harsh conditions; however in the medium- to long-term perspectives, there is a big potential growth of the seafood industry as a food supplier. We want to continue working hard with the help of people, sticking with the basics and conserving limited resources.

The original articles was published on January 5, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Ikuhiro Hattori, Chairman of the JF National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Association, Comments on New Year

January 5, 2009

While experiencing changes in financial and social conditions at a bewildering pace, such as a plummet and hike in international crude oil value and the sudden global economic meltdown (stemmed from the US financial crisis), the importance of food safety and assurance issues and increases in management costs due to the higher fuel and material prices, have thrown association members and JF groups into the more stringent situation in Japan. Especially, the unprecedentedly rising costs of fuel, which is like blood for fisheries, motivated about 4,000 fishermen to congregate for "Breakthrough for fisheries management crisis: national fishermen's rally" last summer. It is still fresh in our memory that, for the first time in our history of fisheries, 200,000 fishing boats nationwide went on a strike, calling attention for distressed conditions of fishermen. Our outcry was accepted seriously, resulting in emergency countermeasures against the skyrocketing fuel prices last July and another additional large supplemental budget of \60 billion given by the government in October. These emergency measures were aimed for the strengthening and reforming of the fisheries management structure based on the medium- to long-term perspectives. Utilizing funds wisely as a safety net to maintain stable management will be essential.

It will have been three years late this year since JF groups began hands-on activities based on policies created in 2006. Understanding that polices made for changes in trends surrounding the fishing industry and improvements of JF management were at present being executed, we came to conclusion at a national meeting in December 08 that we would basically continue on with the current policies, reinforcing the important action items and partially beefing up the policies, especially pragmatic matters, in 2009. Furthermore, there is a mountain of issues needing our attention; it is essential that all available resources of JF groups are mobilized and focused on strengthening the fisheries political power in order to tackle the challenges of the new market environment and realize the organization's measures and policy aims.

The JF National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Association aims to construct an organization, which is trusted, not only by its members, but also the Japanese society; executives and employees are willing to work even harder for this end.

The original article was published on January 5, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

MSC Certified Snow Crab Sold by WWF via Mail Order and Online

December 25, 2008

The World Wide Fund for Nature Japan announced on December 24, 2008 that it would sell a limited number of MSC certified Maizuru snow crab of the Kyoto Otter Trawl Fisheries Association only at the WWF's online/mail-order store "PANDA SHOP" starting late December. The WWF aims to support efforts of the fisheries association by raising recognition of Maizuru snow crab through sales operations. Large boiled snow crab will be sold for \13,000 each (tax and shipping included); limited sales of 100 packages will be sold.

Kishige Suisan in Maizuru City, Kyoto Prefecture, agreed to process and distribute the crabs. All the proceeds will be utilized for nature conservation. The Kyoto Otter Trawl Fisheries Association acquired the MSC eco-label certification, first one in Asia, in September 2008, after two years of assessment period.

The original article was published on December 25, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

2nd Supplemental Budget Allocates \14.8 Billion for Fisheries

December 25, 2008

The Second supplement budget in the fiscal year of 2008 for fisheries totaled \14.8 billion; \11.7 billion of which was for non-public use and \3.1 billion for public. \2.9 billion was allocated for an international fisheries reform program; \2.2 billion for foundational reinforcement of loan security under a public system for minor fisheries; and \300 million for emergency facilitation of whaling research operations.

The followings are projects and allocation amounts for them: \1 billion for promotion of stable supply of domestic seafood products; \1 billion for reinforcement of the fisheries management structure; \300 million for securement and development of fishermen; \1.9 billion for establishment of profitable fisheries; \200 million for emergency measures for formation of collaborative business to increase profitability of fishing boats and operations; \1.2 billion for development of the vital fishing industry; \100 million for emergency countermeasures for the soaring fish feed prices; \2.9 billion for international fisheries reform; \2.2 billion for foundational reinforcement of loan security under a public system for minor fisheries; \200 million for financial reconstruction of fisheries cooperatives; \3.1 billion (public) for fisheries infrastructure development; \300 million for emergency facilitation of whaling research operations; \100 million for salmon/trout fisheries cooperation; and \100 million for establishment of quakeproof public facilities.

The original articles was published on December 25, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

2009 Budget for Fisheries Totals \236.1 Billion or 97.5% of Last Year

December 25, 2008

An approximate total of a budget allocation for fisheries in the fiscal year of 2009 amounted to \236.1 billion, or 97.5 percent of last year; \105.3 billion, or 108.8 percent will be used for nonpublic purposes and \130.7 billion, or 90.1 percent will be publicly expended. The 2009 budget indicated generous appropriations for fuel measures and reform of fishing boats and the fishery structure.

\14.2 billion was allocated for "Promotion of Energy Conservation and Structure Reform" to benefit total reinforcement of the fishing industry structure. (\5 billion was provided for this purpose in the previous year). Part of the fund will be put to use for cutbacks on fuel consumption, fuel efficiency increases, and improved productivity of fishing grounds during rotational fishing halt in coastal fisheries. For a project of energy conservation and resources recovery, a new allotment of \1.6 billion was given. An allocation for a project of the comprehensive structure reform of fishing boats and fisheries was increased to \5.7 billion from \5 billion of the previous year.

A project of special adjustment for fisheries management and mutual aid in the category of "Development and Securement of New Human Resources," was provided \1.4 billion; for "Safe Operation," \100 million was allotted to promote use of life jackets. An amount of \1.1 billion was newly assigned for a project to enhance sales power of seafood producers in the category of "Processing, Distribution, and Consumption." Harnessing experience and knowledge of former supermarket and/or trading company leaders, producers' selling power will be strengthened. A new emergency project to secure seafood materials received \100 million for conversion of untapped and little used fish into surimi.

"Establishment of Sustainable Aquaculture" was given \200 million (\100 million last year) as an aid for the aquaculture sector suffering the growing costs of feed. The fund will be spent to utilize advanced mixed feed and to establish a low cost production system by using fish feed made from by-catch as well as residues after fish processing.

For the purpose of "Promotion of Resources Research and Management," development of coral propagation technology was newly funded and provided \300 million; and countermeasures against interceptions of whaling research received \800 million, an increase from \500 million allocated last year.

For "Comprehensive Improvement Of Fishing Ports, Grounds, and Villages, and Realization of Their Multifaceted Functions," a fund of \1.5 billion, a massive increase from \400 million, was appropriated to overhaul direct controlled fishing grounds and fish reef. Setup of a subsidy for conservation of marine forests and tidelands by fishermen received a new allotment of \1.3 billion.

The original articles was published on December 25, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Alaskan King Crab Import Volume Doubled

December 25, 2008

While import amounts of Russian king crab decline each year, Alaskan king crab import volume is indicating a steep increase. Alaskan king crab fishing began in October 2008.

Import volume of Alaskan king crab for 2008 was expected to remain the same as the previous year; however, the US financial crisis, which started in September 2008, upset the whole picture. In 2007 Japan, with deflation and the higher yen, faced "kaimake" (defeat at the auction) against the US with inflation and the stronger dollar. American packing companies began to shift their sales target to Japan, with which cash transactions were assured.

One of stakeholders from a trading company predicted that: "Alaskan king crab of the '08 harvest season may witness more than doubled import volume from a '07 amount, with the help of the appreciation of the yen."

The original articles was published on December 25, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

MEL Japan Holds First Certification Announcement Ceremony

December 25, 2008

Marine Eco-Label Japan (MEL Japan) held a ceremonial event "Marine Eco-label Japan Certification Presentation" at the Japan Fisheries Association (Daisui) on December 22, 2008 to commemorate the first certification of the production stage (fishery certification) awarded to the Sea of Japan Red Snow Crab Fishery.

Director of Daisui, Toshinori Saito, who represented the host of the ceremony, said, "We hope that the awarded fishery will further aggressively work for sustainability of resources, strengthen red snow crab as a brand, and invigorate the area of Sakaiminato."

Masahito Nishino, chairman-director of the Sea of Japan Crab Pot Fishery Association, commented that: "It is a time when conventional fisheries methods are being questioned. Therefore, it is crucial that each fisherman himself asks the public about today's fisheries in his own word, and considers how fisheries can receive support." He continued, "With this certification, we also aim for sustainability of local industries. We acknowledge that the current condition of resources is not sufficient, however, we are determined to continue our efforts. We wish to show our efforts to the public by making the best of the certification. Additionally, we ask the general public to contemplate how the future fisheries should be."

The Japan Fisheries Resource Conservation Association acted as an examining authority; executive director Masao Shimomura said, "We confirmed a solid system of chain of custody certification. I hope that the Sea of Japan Crab Pot Fishery Association will run more excellent fishery equipped with better resources management capacity by acquiring COC."

Red snow crab has been used as an alternative to sow crab; however, the fishery stated its aim to use red snow crabs as a tourist attraction, "tasty red snow crab only available at Sakaiminato," by marketing red snow crab as an MEL certified product.

The original articles was published on December 25, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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