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2014年3月10日 (月)

被災地の水産業 再生へ企業の活力を生かそう

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 09, 2014
Tap private-sector firms to rev up disaster-hit fisheries industry
被災地の水産業 再生へ企業の活力を生かそう(3月9日付・読売社説)

The fisheries industry in the areas that were dealt a severe blow by the Great East Japan Earthquake is still working its way toward recovery.

The industry has faced major challenges in transforming itself into a high-profitability sector on the strength of private businesses. 企業活力を生かした収益性の高い産業への転換が問われている。

Considerable progress has been made in the reconstruction of disaster-hit fishing ports and vessels in the past three years, but the catch volumes landing at major marine product wholesale markets in the three prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima have remained at about 70 percent of levels before the disaster caused by the earthquake and tsunami.

Even before the disaster on March 11, 2011, fishing communities in the area had been afflicted with such problems as the aging of fishermen and a shortage of successors. Recovery from the devastation is a task of enormous significance.

It is worth noting that under the severe circumstances, the government designated the Momonoura area of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, last year as a “special fisheries reconstruction zone,” the first such measure to be put into effect.

High expectations have been placed on the designation, which could lead to the entry of businesses from outside the area and create a new type of industry that would integrate a full spectrum of fishing operations, processing of marine products and marketing services. The envisaged business model is seen as providing an incentive to encourage development of what is referred to as a “sixth industrial sector.”

In the Momonoura special fisheries reconstruction zone, regulations have been eased on the granting of preferential fishing rights to local fishing cooperatives for such products as oysters, to make it possible for individual fishermen and businesses to obtain such rights.

A group of fishermen in Momonoura has established a new company as a joint venture with a marine product wholesale firm, acquiring farming rights for oysters.

The company’s two-story processing plant was completed last month at the area’s harbor. The plant is equipped with an array of devices for packing, freezing and frying oysters, and is set to engage in a full range of operations, from farming to marketing of oysters. The company has expanded sales of its products to major restaurant chains.

Harmful rumors continue

This achievement has been made possible simply because the group of fishermen was able to raise funds in cooperation with the wholesale firm by making use of the special fisheries reconstruction zone designation. The company aims to run in the black on a single-year basis in three years.

Apparently prompted by the special zone’s establishment, Ishinomaki’s local fishing cooperative has launched the sale of oysters via the Internet. Competition between the new company and the cooperative to develop products and services well suited to consumer preferences will likely help revitalize the local economy.

It is regrettable, however, that there are no prospects yet of the special zone designation system expanding to other areas. A major factor behind this seems to be the aversion of fishing cooperatives in various parts of the disaster-hit region to special zone designation plans.

The cooperatives’ stance of protecting such vested interests as the preferential allocation of fishing rights and the right of levying fees for the use of fishing grounds cannot curtail the downward trend of the local fisheries industry. It is indispensable for fishing cooperatives to change their mode of thinking in this respect.

In addition to encouraging the entry of new businesses into the local fisheries industry, both the central and local governments concerned are urged to place high importance on such steps as helping establish outlets for direct sales of local marine products and promoting the economy of fishing communities by using local features as tourism resources that allow sightseers to experience fishing. It is also important to continue supporting fishing communities’ efforts to boost business efficiency by, for instance, sharing the use of fishing boats.

In Fukushima Prefecture, the road to the fishing industry’s recovery is particularly precarious, mainly because of harmful rumors stemming from the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Fishermen in the prefecture’s coastal area have had to impose their own constraints on operations except for a few species of fish.

About 40 countries and territories, including China and South Korea, still restrict the import of farm and fisheries products from Japan.

While continuing to make efforts to gain understanding at home and abroad that products are shipped after their safety has been verified, the central and local governments and the private sector should further endeavor to promote the export of the nation’s farm and fisheries commodities.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 9, 2014)
(2014年3月9日01時22分  読売新聞)


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