Everything You Need to Know About the Fishery Industry in Japan
It's one of the best in the world.
The fishery industry in Japan is arguably one of the best in the world. The combined hard work and skills of Japanese fishermen accumulated through their long history of fishing have made Japan into one of the world’s largest wholesale markets for fresh, frozen, and processed seafood located at the world-famous Tsukiji Market, among many other markets in Japan.
However, as the global fishery industry is battling the continuous drop in catches every year due to global warming and the decline in the fish population, the fishery industry still continues to find ways to combat the ever-growing demand for fish. Japan carries on to compete and remain as one of the world’s sources of fish. By using their experience in the field and their new technological developments in the industry, these will serve as a testament to the fishery industry in Japan.
This industry is one of the industrial fields in which specified skilled workers can be accepted. Japan has been accepting workers in 14 industrial fields to make up for its severe labor shortage in recent years. In this article, we will cover topics like the job description, work environment, skill requirements, job prospects, and of course, the salary in the fishery industry.
What do the people in the fishery industry do?
The fishery industry in Japan is more than what it seems. Although it usually involves riding a boat, going out to the sea, and doing actual fishing, we must not forget the scientific efforts being made to combat the declining population of fish. Knowledge about the sea, boating, and other aquatic animals are some of the important elements required in this industry. Safety is also a priority because faring the open seas has its own set of dangers. This is why risk management and standard procedure becomes a part of the training for those who plan to be part of this industry.
In the end, it all boils down to skill. By joining the fishery industry in Japan, you will be able to learn and grow in this expanding industry which currently has two different categories: Fishery and Aquaculture Industry.
Under the Technical Intern Trainee Program (TITP) and Specified Skills Work (SSW), here are the following subcategories for fishery are as follows: single-hook fishing for Bonito, longline fishing for Tuna, jigging fishery for Squid, Bottom trawling, Roundhaul fishery, Drift netting, Fixed net fishing, and Crab and shrimp cage. Depending on the subcategory, it will be further classified under coastal, offshore, or deep-sea fishing.
On the other hand, there is a similar category to fishery called Maru ship. One of their main differences is the implemented institutional scheme. For Fishery, foreigners (SSW and TITP) are hired by Japanese entities and work on a Japanese boat. On the other hand, in Maruship, foreigners are hired offshore and work on a Japanese boat. Another difference is Maruship focuses on the deep-sea fishery far from the coasts of Japan. This means the fishermen work for weeks on end on a boat. Fishery encompasses coastal, offshore, and deep-sea fishing which would range from a day to weeks.
FAO states that the Aquaculture industry in Japan started as far as the 16th century in the shores of Seto Inland Sea of Japan. Cultivation of marine life sustains the high demand for seafood with the limited supply that oceans have to offer because of the degradation of the marine environment. According to MAFF, there are currently 60 different species included in the Japanese aquaculture section of the fishery industry.
TITPs were recently introduced to the fishery industry back in 2010 and are currently contributing greatly to the oyster and scallop production in Japan. In the case of SSWs, aside from these two species, they are also expected to be part of the cultivation of eel, nori (laver), pearl, and other fish species.
Working in the fishery industry would bring you closer to the sea. For some, it would mean riding on a ship and fishing for days. While for others, it could also mean working at the coastal areas looking out for the aquaculture they are cultivating. Working conditions could vary depending on the climate and ocean conditions. It could also mean braving the cold seas of the north, or enjoying the warmer climates of Japan’s tropical seas. One thing is for sure, there would be a lot of seafood to be enjoyed for those working in this industry. Enjoying your catches for the day is one of the pleasures of being a fisherman.
The average working hours in the fishery industry is eight hours a day. 40 hours work weeks are common, but due to certain working conditions, overtime is not uncommon. Depending on the category, work hours can be longer than usual.
Communication is done in Japanese which might be a huge hurdle for foreign workers. Knowing Japanese is very important especially when placed on ships because this would require communication to maneuver the marine vehicles properly. Most importantly, during times of emergency, it is crucial to know how to communicate effectively with your crewmates. One thing to look forward to is learning the different dialects of Japan. As the fishery industry is mainly located in the coastal regions where local dialects flourish, some foreigners would find themselves better at the local dialects better than the regular Japanese.
After passing the Fishery Industry skills exam, you are set to become part of the fishery industry. Prior experience as a TITP will definitely help you if you are planning to become an SSW in this industry.
Although skills are a plus, what most people from the industry look for in a person is the passion for working at sea. Because of the working conditions, it will be difficult to adjust if one is not interested in fisheries.
Your income will vary depending on your gender and age. It also depends on where you are placed. According to case studies in Nagasaki Prefecture, the yearly income for people in their 20s range around ¥3,000,000 to ¥4,500,000.
The Japanese government is set to accommodate 9,000 SSW foreign workers for the fishery industry alone. It is one of the industries where the Japanese government is pro-actively accepting foreign workers. This is to address Japan’s shortage in the labor force which has been one of the many other industries prevalent issues.
(29 October 2019)