Coastal fisheries in Japan have been in decline since the early 1990s. Situated mostly in rural areas, fishing communities suffer from depopulation, aging and a lack of successors. Moreover, stagnating production levels, falling prices, decreasing demand and rising costs have led to income insecurities, further deterring young people to enter the industry. Policymakers and fishermen alike have been struggling to find solutions for this complex mix of challenges.
The dissertation projects analyzes how fishery policies have changed since the implementation of the 2001 Fisheries Basic Act. The Basic Act stipulated the revitalization of small scale coastal fisheries with a focus on communities as one of its the main goals, followed by several programs channeling subsidies into fishing to achieve this. Since 2014, however, we can observe a policy shift with several distinct features. The responsibility of developing measures for revitalization is increasingly put into the hands of the fishermen and local authorities, with a strong emphasis on economic factors. The 2018 reform of the Fishery Law further emphasizes this trend, aiming to usher in more capital-based fisheries. Moreover, management of stocks will increasingly be based on Total Allowable Catch (TAC) systems, a move away from the traditional community based management. This has left many small-scale-fishermen worried about their future in coastal fisheries.
Susanne Auerbach, Freie Universität Berlin