Japan’s legislature has enacted the most significant reform of its fisheries laws in 70 years.
The new legislation has the potential to signal a meaningful shift in how other countries in the Asia Pacific region manage their fisheries in the future.
Katie McGinty, senior vice president of EDF Oceans, said: “The world should take note of this moment because it signals a transformational shift in how countries are managing their fisheries for the long term, and if done right, has the potential to usher in a new era of sustainability in the region that will have far-reaching positive impacts”.
The passage of the reform legislation through the Japanese Diet (Japan’s bicameral legislature) marks a landmark moment in the nation’s efforts to reform its fisheries, which has been a high priority for Prime Minister Abe as he continues to restructure Japan’s economy for long-term prosperity.
For more than a year, EDF has provided expert scientific and policy support and advice to government officials, scientists and regulators to help lay the groundwork for the reform effort.
The legislation’s goal is to ensure long-term productivity of important fish stocks that are at the heart of the Japanese economy, culture and cuisine, and that impact seafood markets across the globe.
The reform package incorporates several recommendations from EDF including expanding stock assessments to cover all commercial stocks and increasing the percentage of catch managed with science-based catch limits.
In addition, the reforms include requiring recovery plans for overfished stocks within 10 years and establishing a system of individual vessel quotas with some transferability.
McGinty added: “We applaud Japanese Diet members and the Abe Administration for their leadership and will continue to work alongside our partners to ensure the reform effort is implemented in the most effective way possible.”
While the reforms being passed by the Diet are a meaningful step forward on the road to creating sustainable fisheries in Japan, the implementation phase will be equally important, EDF said.
During that crucial phase, regulations known as cabinet and ministerial ordinances will be drafted by Japan’s Fishery Agency and will shape how the legislation is put in place on the water.
EDF said it is particularly focused on helping refine the reforms during the implementation phase to include a transition financing plan that does not undercut sustainability, including stakeholders more broadly in the management process and improvements in monitoring and accountability.
McGinty concluded: “There can be no doubt that this development to create greater sustainability in Japan’s fisheries is a significant win, but more work needs to be done.
"We must continue to work together in order to achieve Prime Minister Abe’s vision of creating thriving, resilient and sustainable fisheries that provide more food, more prosperity and greater environmental wellbeing for people, their communities and the ocean."
This article is based on a press release from the Environmental Defence Fund.