But with the US fishing industry gaining strength, the decision was taken to relocate Nichimo’s UC netting production to subsidiary company NET Systems (Nor’Eastern Trawl Systems Inc.) in the US where manufacturing continues to this day.
Nichimo’s UC netting is used in the bunts of coastal purse seines that catch small pelagics such as sardines, mackerel and horse mackerel, and in the bunts of offshore purse seines used to catch skipjack and yellowfin tuna. These offshore purse seines are also the main product that is currently manufactured by another subsidiary in Japan, Nishinihon Nichimo Co., Ltd.
Takahiro Morioka commented that Nichimo is also joining a growing number of companies and innovators designing more selective fishing gear to reduce by-catch, a key issue for fisheries management.
UC netting itself doesn’t eliminate by-catch, he added, but it can be part of by-catch measures, as mesh size is a primary factor in filtering out small fish. By monitoring the conditions of fishing grounds, researching the selectivity and efficiency of fishing as well as target species and their sizes, and gathering as much information as possible from fishermen, Nichimo’s aim is to make it possible for UC netting to be used in ways that reflect species’ size, shape and behaviour.
‘There is no silver bullet for a problem as broad as by-catch,’ Takahiro Morioka said.
‘But we can build on our knowledge of the issue and research various aspects of nets including design. The more we know about the ways in which we can stop different things being caught, the more we can make better nets.’
In the quest to scale up smart fishing gear across Japan’s fisheries, he believes that change can happen if it’s negotiated with fishermen first.
‘At Nichimo, we believe that fishermen are the ones who can drive change so we consult them regularly about fishing gear. They have to be the main focus. We must build something that they are going to use,’ he said.
As sustainability in commercial fishing becomes more and more of a key issue, Nichimo is aiming to use its wealth of fisheries technology and knowledge to ensure the sustained development of fishing industries in Japan and overseas, and better protect the marine environment. While work continues to tap into more sales channels within and outside Japan, and with positive customer feedback coming in, Takahiro Morioka hopes that in future, more fishing people around the world will become aware of the strength and performance of UC netting.
‘A good net is one with superior fishing efficiency that reduces by-catch and only catches fish that are a suitable size. UC netting is a groundbreaking product for heavy-duty commercial fishing thanks to its strength and stability and we’re looking forward to expanding our work,’ he said.
‘Nichimo is a public institution with technology and services to lead the fishing industry, and contributes greatly to societal development. It doesn’t exist alone. Rather, its positive relationships with customers and stakeholders enable it to exist. Our aim is to fulfill our responsibility of contributing to the development of fisheries in Japan and around the world while continuing our efforts towards a prosperous coexistence.’