Governing in an uncertain time: the case of Sakura shrimp fishery, Japan


Known as the “Jewel of Suruga Bay,” Sakura shrimp has long been an important fishery that supports the economy of the local communities in Suruga Bay, Shizuoka, Japan. The fishery experienced an unprecedented decline in 2018, with the catch volume falling to 312 mt, which is about one-fourth of the average catch from 2010 to 2017. This has led to the questioning of the pooling system, considered an effective management system in the long history of the fishery. Other natural and anthropogenic factors have also been discussed as possible causes of the resource decline. Through a pre- and post-crisis analysis, this paper examines the complex issues and challenges facing the Sakura shrimp fishery, focusing specifically on the performance of the governance system, given its structure and functions. Drawing on informal discussion with key stakeholders involved in the fishery and field observation, the paper discusses the nature of the problem and proposes transdisciplinarity as a new lens for governing the shrimp fishery in a time of uncertainty.

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The authors wish to express their sincere thanks to Mr. Junichi Miyahara, Mr. Takehiro Unno and Mr. Masanori Jitsuishi of the Fisheries Cooperative Association of Yui (Japan), and Mr. Ruilong Chen and Mr. Fushan Cheng of The Tungkang District Fishermen’s Association (Taiwan) for providing them with valuable cooperation in the progress of this research. We also thank the Too Big To Ignore Partnership (Grant number 895-2011-1011) and the Ocean Frontier Institute Module I (Informing Governance Responses in a Changing Ocean) for facilitating the collaboration and for the institutional support.


This work was supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) KAKENHI Grant Number JP17K12861.

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YL: conceptualization, data curation, formal analysis and investigation, methodology, and writing—original draft preparation. RC: conceptualization, methodology, and writing—review and editing.

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Correspondence to Yinji Li.

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Li, Y., Chuenpagdee, R. Governing in an uncertain time: the case of Sakura shrimp fishery, Japan. Maritime Studies (2021).

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  • Sakura shrimp fishery
  • Wicked problem
  • Transdisciplinarity
  • Suruga Bay
  • Fisheries sustainability
  • Japan