Baseline assessment of total fisheries-related biomass removal from Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zones: 1950–2010

Abstract

The rise and fall of Japan’s marine fisheries have been well documented and are clearly evident in official landings statistics. However, the extent of illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries, including recreational fisheries, and the discarding of unwanted catch in Japanese waters, both of which may have significant implications on the success of management regimes, have yet to be closely examined. This study reassessed the impact of fisheries on the marine ecosystems of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) by estimating the total marine biomass removed through the use of an established catch reconstruction approach. Since 1950, 368 million t of marine biomass have been extracted from the Japanese EEZ as commercial catch, recreational catch, illegal catch and discards. Commercial catch accounted for 87 % of the total, while discards accounted for an additional 8 %. The disparity between the estimated biomass removals and the reported commercial catch is 48 million t, or 15 % of the reported catch. The difference is not as large as observed in similar studies of other regions. Nonetheless, the reconstructed biomass removals represent a better baseline for the management of fisheries in the Japanese EEZ, particularly if Japan is to move forward with implementation of output control management.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Keita Abe and Kento Ito of the Hokkaido University for their assistance in the data collection. WS gratefully acknowledges support and funding from the Nippon Foundation through the Nereus Program Fellowship. This work was conducted in partnership with the Sea Around Us Project, a scientific collaboration between the University of British Columbia and the Pew Environment Group.

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Correspondence to Wilf Swartz.

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Swartz, W., Ishimura, G. Baseline assessment of total fisheries-related biomass removal from Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zones: 1950–2010. Fish Sci 80, 643–651 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12562-014-0754-6

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Keywords

  • Catch statistics
  • Discards
  • IUU fisheries