Impacts on society of changes of the sardine fishery

A case study: Kushiro

As described earlier, a great increase in the sardinestock resulted from a major expansion of their spatial range. Impacts on society of fluctuations in sardine abundance are found most markedly on the fringes of the sardine stock's distribution. Kushiro, a city located on the eastern Pacific Ocean side of Hokkaido, a base of fishery operations, where total landings had been the highest in Japan in this period, is used as a case study (Fig. 14.4).

Figure 14.5 shows trends in landings at Kushiro since 1964 in terms of major landed species; Alaska pollock, chub mackerel, and sardine. Alaska pollock has been caught by trawlers in the Bering Sea as well as around Hokkaido. The size of the pollock catch is dependent to a large extent on the international regulations of the sea. Since about 1960, when a method to produce frozen minced fish meat (reito surimi) was invented, the landings of Alaska pollock at Kushiro had increased year by year until it reached about 600,000 mt in 1974, when regulations for limiting pollock catches by foreign vessels in the Bering Sea were strengthened by the US. On 1 March 1977, a regulation went into effect governing fisheries resources in the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the US and

Fig. 14.4 Locations of landing ports where a large quantity of sardine is landed.

of the USSR based on their domestic laws. Landings of Alaska pollock at Kushiro dropped to about 200,000 mt in 1978 and have remained more or less at this level since then.

Chub mackerel landings caught by purse seiners at Kushiro began to increase in the early 1960s and peaked between 1970 and 1974. In 1976 a large quantity of sardine suddenly appeared in the waters off southeastern Hokkaido, replacing chub mackerel. As shown in Fig. 14.5, the sardine landings at the Kushiro Fish Market increased rapidly thereafter and by 1987 made up 65 percent of the total landings of all species. The proportion of large-quantity fish such as Alaska pollock, chub mackerel, and sardine to total landings, has risen from 42 percent by weight and 28 percent by value in 1964 to 91 percent and 56 percent, respectively, in 1987 (Fig. 14.6). Thus, the constitution of the Kushiro Fish Market has become more dependent on species with large quantity landings. The total value of landings, however, has declined recently in spite of the increase in total catch, as a result of the increase in

YEAR

Fig. 14.5 Year-to-year change in landings at the Kushiro Fish Market in terms of value (a) and weight (b), 1964-87. This figure shows that fishing for mackerel finished in 1977, but the sardine fishery began in 1976.

YEAR

Fig. 14.5 Year-to-year change in landings at the Kushiro Fish Market in terms of value (a) and weight (b), 1964-87. This figure shows that fishing for mackerel finished in 1977, but the sardine fishery began in 1976.

low-value landings. Changes in utilization categories and prices of landings at Kushiro (Fig. 14.7) also occurred for various species.

In 1964-66 the uses for Alaska pollock were categorized as "fresh" and "miscellaneous." In 1967 their use was expanded to include "minced fish meat" and in 1968 to include "fish oil and fish meal." Use for "minced fish meat" has been expanding annually, while the use for "fish oil and fish meal" ended in 1978, as the catch of the low-value sardine increased. The use of pollock as "fresh" fish also declined and, since 1977, it has been used almost exclusively for "minced fish meat" (surimi).

Between 1965 and 1968 only part of the chub mackerel landings were used for "fish oil and fish meal" but after that time most of their landings were used for "oil and meal," until the mackerel population was replaced in the waters southeast of Hokkaido by

5 80

1962 1970 1980 1989

YEAR

Fig. 14.6 Value and weight of landings of the three species, Alaska pollock, sardine, and mackerel as percentages of the total landings at Kushiro Fish Market, 1964-87.

a newcomer - the sardine. Most of the sardine landings which have been caught in place of mackerel have been reduced to "oil and meal." Thus, uses of large-volume but lower-value fish have become very unvaried.

Trends in mean landing prices at the Kushiro Fish Market are also interesting. Between 1964 and 1975, when fishing for mackerel off Hokkaido ended, landing prices of mackerel and Alaska pollock were almost the same - low and fluctuating between 20 and 35 yen/kg. Prices were also the same for Alaska pollock and sardine in

1976, when fishing for sardine began. The price of Alaska pollock, however, jumped sharply in 1977 to twice that of the previous year (73 yen/kg) because of the fear that its supply might decline as a result of the imposition of the 200-mile fishing jurisdiction. The price of sardine, however, remained unchanged (36 yen/kg). Since

1977, the price of sardine declined to a low of 9-10 yen/kg as its landings drastically increased. The tendency of the price of Alaska

Volue

- Weight

1962 1970 1980 1989

YEAR

Fig. 14.6 Value and weight of landings of the three species, Alaska pollock, sardine, and mackerel as percentages of the total landings at Kushiro Fish Market, 1964-87.

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