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Global maps of the growth of Japanese marine fisheries and fish consumption Swartz, Wilfram Ken

Abstract

Globally, consumers are increasingly relying on goods and services produced in other countries. This is particularly true for fish products, nearly 40% of world fish production is currently traded globally. Thus, there now exists a clear disconnect between resource harvesters and resource consumers. This research is concerned with an assessment of fisheries exploitation patterns based on consumption as a complement to assessment based on fisheries catch. Such research requires an examination of two primary modes of fish acquisition: the operation of a country's domestic fishing fleets, i.e., its landings and the purchase of fish caught by foreign fleets, i.e., its fish import. Japanese fish consumption will be used as a case study. Japan has traditionally been one of the world's largest consumers of fish products, with considerable dependence on foreign fisheries resources, initially through the operation of its distant water fleets, and later through the purchase of foreign catches as import. Global maps of Japanese trade statistics were constructed in terms of where catch were likely to have been taken, through a comparison with existing world, landings maps. By combining Japan's trade maps with Japan's catch maps, one can then assess the spatial and temporal patterns of Japanese fish consumption. Examination of the consumption maps indicate that despite the reduction of its distant water fleets, Japan maintains high level consumption throughout the world oceans via its increased reliance on the import of foreign catches. Moreover, maps of Japan's consumption relative to the world catch reveal that Japan remains the most prominent consumer of fisheries resources from many regions of the world, particularly in the South Pacific and the waters around Antarctica. Such maps provide an alternative measure of the level of fisheries exploitation exerted by the demand of fish importing countries. Although the responsibility for ensuring the sustainability of the resource use is on the resource-extracting nation, an understanding of the exploitation pressure exerted by the demand of the importing countries is evidently in their best interest, as it dictates the long-term security and stability of the supply. The mapping of consumption undertaken in my research may lead to more thorough analyses of this issue.

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