Building a Future for Japan's Fisheries

As one of Japan's biggest marine firms, Nichimo Corporation's fisheries expertise goes back over a century.

Since its foundation in 1910 and incorporation nine years later, Tokyo-based Nichimo Corporation (Nichimo) has become a one-stop provider of marine products and services. Originally a fishing net manufacturer, business expanded further over the years and the company also has a comprehensive food division that accommodates the different needs of the food-related business from processing to machinery.

In particular, the research and development, manufacture and sale of nets, fishing gear, ship supplies and equipment have been key to the company’s attempt to modernise and reinvigorate Japan’s fishing industry, an issue close to the company’s heart.

‘We must make Japan’s fishing industry a growth industry because the global population is rising and we need to guarantee food for more and more people,’ said Takahiro Morioka of General Affairs at Nichimo.

Over the years, this issue of the declining number of fishermen has been clouding Japan’s fishing industry. Today, the figure stands at around 150,000, while the younger generation is reluctant to join an industry that’s seen as physically demanding and not well paid.

‘Right now it’s very hard to tell where we might see growth or decline in Japan’s fisheries and when that might be. In terms of demand for our fishing equipment, for example, it’s neither increasing nor decreasing. We have a fixed set of clients who order from us as and when they need to.’

Japan's largest fishing gear company, Nichimo has a history that goes back more than a century

Nichimo is best known for the manufacture and sale of fine, durable netting for trawls, purse seines and set nets, and for longlines.

Fishing gears are tailored to suit the type of vessel, sea area and target species, making it possible to optimise catch rates and improve profitability.

Nichimo’s Marine Business Group follows up with its customers to ensure that their products are working to their full potential, maintaining contact with customers to monitor how fishing gear performs and to be able to propose improvements.

Some products are also offered to North America and worldwide through a subsidiary in Dutch Harbor and Kodiak, Alaska, while the company is also working to reduce by-catch by designing more selective fishing gear that can respond uniquely to a species’ size, shape and behaviour.

Interested customers trying on Nichimo's 3 Knot workwear

Nichimo is taking up the task of revamping Japan’s fishing industry with new initiatives. One is the production of functional, lightweight workwear to change the image of commercial fishing from tough and dirty into something that young people can take an interest in.

In the past, Japan’s fishermen weren’t bothered by what they wore,’ Takahiro Morioka said.

‘But with fewer fishermen around, we need to appeal to younger people. A fisherman’s salary isn’t going to increase much, so when we thought about the best way to draw in young people, we decided on fashion that could give the impression that fishermen are cool. Our workwear is still being developed but we’re making progress and planning to supply them to other countries as well as Japan.’

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