A collaborative project involving NGOs, producers, and distributors, has helped a coho salmon farm to become the first of its kind in Japan to achieve ASC certification for environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture – and the salmon is already available to Japanese consumers.
Marukin Co., Ltd., based in Miyagi prefecture in Northeast Japan, is also the first farm in Japan to use such a project – known as an Aquaculture Improvement Project or AIP – to achieve ASC certification, following three years of hard work.
AIPs are a collaborative effort between multiple stakeholders including producers, distributors, and NGOs, with the purpose of improving the performance of aquaculture production to more responsible levels of production in a timely and transparent manner. They help farms that may not yet be ready for full certification to identify and action improvements that meet the same stringent requirements of the ASC standards albeit for fewer requirements. Along with the obvious benefits to the farm, they also help meet NGO targets to drive up farming standards and help provide distributors with a source of certified responsible seafood for their customers.
Koji Yamamoto, General Manager of ASC Japan said: “I am delighted to welcome Marukin to the ASC programme. Currently more than 40% of global farmed salmon by volume is already ASC certified, but there has so far not been much produced in Japan. It is exciting to have the first ASC coho salmon farm in japan, and I hope that this achievement by Marukin will serve as an example for responsible coho salmon farming.”
Shingo Suzuki, Managing Director of Marukin, said: “I am very grateful for our many partner organizations and businesses because this achievement wouldn’t have been possible without their support. I hope our efforts can motivate other seafood farmers throughout Japan to take on similar endeavors because demand for environmentally friendly farm-raised seafood will continue to rise as wild caught production decreases.”
Marukin launched its AIP in 2017 with social venture Seafood Legacy Co., Ltd. and local group Fisherman Japan. This achievement is not the first time Marukin has been a pioneering organisation, having been the first to successfully commercially farm coho salmon in Japan in 1977. The company was badly affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which destroyed its entire facility. Marukin used this setback as a chance to reflect and strengthen, and the business was rebuilt with a renewed focus on sustainability and responsibility, culminating in the successful AIP.
Marukin made a number of improvements to meet the ASC Salmon Standard, including reducing the environmental impacts to surrounding ecosystems and habitats, improving the sustainability of their salmon feed, managing diseases and parasites, and implementing company-wide policies addressing social responsibility.
The salmon is already on sale to Japanese consumers at 90 AEON stores across Japan. AEON is a major Japanese retailer and has been promoting sustainable and responsible seafood since 2006 when it first started stocking MSC certified seafood. There are currently 43 ASC certified products on sale at AEON stores in Japan.
Shunji Murakami, Vice President of Seafood Legacy, has been working with Marukin since before the AIP started. He said: “Achieving ASC certification and further contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals after three years of work is a proud moment for Marukin, especially as demand for domestically sourced seafood has increased recently due to the effects of COVID-19 on global seafood trade.
“I hope this wonderful news will help foster a society in which sourcing of ASC-certified and AIP-sourced products as well as companies that work hand-in-hand with producers to improve sustainability of seafood production continue to increase.”