Mapping Japan’s fisheries

Nichimo is working to chart the scope and pattern of fishing in Japan's waters by obtaining satellite data on climate and parameters such as water temperature, analysing these and sharing information with fishermen. Moves are also underway to gather such data directly from fishing vessels.

Information on available fish stocks, marine habitats or conditions at sea can often be elusive. In Japan, older fishermen have taken the time to study a host of factors in fish behaviour and sea conditions that will help them identify where fish are likely to be at any one time.

But as these fishermen retire, their younger colleagues who haven’t yet built up that knowledge, can find it difficult to search out areas where fish behaviour factors coincide with currents, food, bottom features and other things that go towards finding fish.

Fishing gear under construction at one of the Nichimo net lofts

Aiming to help these younger fishermen, this is where Nichimo’s initiative comes in.

‘AI and IoT are going to be indispensable if commercial fishing in Japan is to become a growth industry,’ Takahiro Morioka said.

‘Using data from both will produce a wider picture of the marine environment, weather, fish migration patterns and help fishermen better understand what is happening in which ocean ecosystem.’

A group of visitors watches as Nichimo's UltraCross netting is produced

Although Nichimo’s main focus is to rejuvenate Japan’s fishing industry, it’s also turning its attention towards the utilisation of other influential technology and knowhow. Having noticed an increased awareness of animal welfare, Nichimo is developing electric stunning systems for fish harvesting, in the light of concerns over the fish slaughter process, which is likely to be highly stressful for fish and result in low quality, taste and freshness. Electric stunning devices can render the fish unconscious with a huge impact on end product quality, Takahiro Morioka said.

Nichimo is also a prominent supplier to the aquaculture sector

‘When it comes to killing fish on a commercial scale, there is an increased emphasis on animal welfare amidst the fact that fish are believed to feel and suffer pain,’ he said.

Nichimo Corporation was established in 1910

‘In Japan, cutting them and draining their blood is known as Ikejime, a Japanese way of killing fish which translates as closing the fish. This is cruel when they’re thrashing about, and it appears to be kinder to knock them unconscious through electric stunning. There is also the issue of worker safety when they are dealing with a 3kg fish that’s thrashing around. We want to reduce this burden on workers and play a part in an increasingly important issue.’

Nichimo’s aim is to bring further value to businesses by seeking new possibilities and making full use of its skills and knowledge to meet the needs of an ever-changing society. Takahiro Morioka believes that Nichimo’s products and broad expert knowledge will be key as the company continues its efforts in a host of different fields.

‘We’re thinking of ways to reinvigorate Japan’s fishing industry, and that makes Nichimo unique,’ he said.

‘While continuing to support and maintain our current work, our goal is to work towards open innovation by combining the know-how, services, ideas and technology of different fields and industries.’