Lecture: Akkeshi Fishery

★ Lecturer: Professor.Takeshi Ito

Assigned ReadingCooperation in Common-Pool Resources: Towards Sustainable Governance of River Ecosystem Services in Lake Akkeshi and Bekanbeushi  Wetland
Authors – Takeshi Ito, Kyungil Kim, and Hinako Ueno

This week , Human Ecology:Rivers 2016 had a second lecture class on Fishery. To be specific, Oyster and Shrimp fishery in  Akkeshi, Hokkaido. The reading provided covered many aspects if the River ecosystem and its relationship to human beings. This lead to one of the class’s discussion on Sustainable Governance.

The students were very much involved and curious about the Fishery  industry in Akkeshi. First, Oysters were discussed as the Akkeshi Oyster farming had gone through two 2 specific crisis – 1. environmental  and 2.over fishing. Although it must be noted that the first environmental factor was caused by humans –  through deforestation, the upper stream of the river affected Lake Akkeshi and it’s water temperature. Therefore, both crisis were caused by human activities.
After this massive die off, the fisher persons struggled to raise their oysters due to shift in fishing rights and methods of fishing. Some farmers who challenged new methods of fishing at the lake, did not have “any clear plans or coordination of how to use the lake.” Tragedy of commons are clear in this scenario.
Production of Oysters came back to a rise after the March 11th earthquake in 2011 . This lead to the idea of more sustainable oyster farming which gave a ‘clear lining of fishery rights in Lake Akkeshi.’ The disaster encouraged the Akkeshi Fishery Coop to directly communicate with the farmers.

Shrimp farming is another aquaculture popular in Akkeshi, although it is not as big as the Oysters as there are only 20 shrimp fisherman.  Shrimp also experienced a decline in population. However through the rethinking of shrimp management ,the population grew in a year with and a method was an incredible success. The key of this success was the leader of the shrimp fishermen, as he stepped forward to learn from scholars. This created a huge difference in the understanding of Shrimp and the leader’s determination to halt shrimping for a year lead to a positive outcome.

The connection of one aspect in the environment affects another, and a small activity of humans can be a huge influence to nature, wildlife and habitat. Through fishery, the class observed the importance of the social and ecological system(Ostrom) –   how professionals from all fields interact can make a positive change. Yet, the success stories are not completely positive as fishery is a profession dependant on luck. The class discussed how fishery = economy is problematic and reciprocation might change the ways in which we look at nature and the value it provides in our lives.

 

Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park – A field trip

The class took the first field trip to the Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park located near Haneda Airport. Through the hustle and bustles upon arriving at the park, the change of scenery in Tokyo could be seen – from old fashion city gradually to a futuristic man made land.

2016-05-11 15.12.21The Wild Bird Park was created in 1973, when the bird watchers initiated a movement to make a land filled area a bird park to preserve and protect nature.  In the 1960’s, there was a land reclamation to create a market – sort of like Tsukiji Market (some of you may know, a Japanese fish market) for produce. Due to miscommunications of the government and those in charge of creating the market, part of this landfilled land started to grow nature and birds began to gather, which lead to the assembly for bird watchers. In 1978, The Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park was established.

The Park was full of trees with a variety of plants and fresh water lakes. Many of these were man made, as trees were brought and planted and lakes were dug and filled. It truly looked like heaven to birds who perhaps have more history in Tokyo than humans do. While surrounded by highways and an airport, as we were in the wild park it seemed we were at a country side – until the trucks in the highway and the airplanes in the sky appeared. Apparently, the birds enjoy the sounds of the highway and the airplanes. Perhaps our guide was mistaking of ‘getting used to’ rather than ‘enjoy.’

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Mr.Saigawa, took the students around for a tour of the park. It seemed half a day may not be enough to explore and appreciate the entirety of the wilderness. He had emphasised that variety is very important for nature as they create bio diversity and lead to a healthy life for all. During the lecture, being a nature lover, Mr.Saigawa spoke about how the park could be a great place for tourists to rest in between flights. They will be surprised that ‘nature’ exists in Tokyo, he said. This was part of an idea towards the 2020 olympics in Japan.

In his discussion of the nature as a culture for the Japanese, according to him nature is only enjoyed if controlled. As Japan is an agricultural country, nature and weather are things to be scared of and not only to be enjoyed. If not controlled, it is NOT nature Mr.Saigawa said – it is fearful. Wildlife management is considered scientific, but perhaps it is crucial for us to think of it as an Art/Humanities. That lead to end of our trip as Mr.Saigawa finished is lecture.

 

Kushiro Salmon Society on Good Morning Hokkaido

On March 30, 2016, Kushiro Salmon Society’s situation of their current activities and salmon fry breeding will be broadcasted live on television! The President of the Kushiro Salmon Society, Mr. Kosugi, is one of our many stakeholders for HER. This Wednesday, the society is broadcasting live in its local NHK program.

Every year the society organises an activity in which local people, students, and children raise salmon roe into salmon fry, individually or collectively (such in supermarkets), and releases them into the Kushiro River in May. This activity is done to revive the decreasing population of salmon in the Kushiro river. However this activity is slowly tapering off and the number of foster parents to raise the salmon roes are decreasing yearly. Yet, the society continues to strive with this activity in hopes of increasing the number of participants. Please watch this live broadcasting if you are interested 🙂
TV Program: “Good Morning Hokkaido” (NHK)
*this program only broadcasts in the Hokkaido region*
Date: March 30, 2016
Time: 7:45am ~

 

Thank you.

Upcoming Event: Become an Oyster Expert!

Are you interested in becoming an Oyster Expert? If so, this is your chance!

There is going to be an event held on March 20, 2016, in Akkeshi City in Hokkaido, organized by the incorporated NPO – Akkeshi Network. This event is held to promote knowledge about the delicious Akkeshi Oysters that grow in Hokkaido’s rich natural environment. The NPO’s Executive Committee has created and published a set of problems on Oysters, that would help expand our knowledge on areas such as Akkeshi city’s history, natural environment, oyster farms, fisheries, food culture and habitats. If you are interested in this event, please feel free to register and challenge yourself!

Below are the flyers for this event. English translation will be provided under.

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Details on the event

 

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Details on the event

Event: 7th Oyster Expert Authorization Exam

Date: March 20, 2016 (Sun.)

Time: Registration begins at 1:00PM, Examination begins at 1;30PM

Place: Akkeshi-Cho Seikatsu Kaizen Center (Akkeshi City Life Improvement Center)
Address: Akkeshi City, Minato City, 2-Chome, Hokkaido
TEL (0153)52-4151

Examination Requirements: Age and Sex will not be required

Examination Fee: 2,000 yen/person

Examination Questions: 30 questions from the Oyster Expert Authorization Exam Questionnaire (image of blue booklet attached below)

Examination Application dates: December 10, 2015 (Thurs.) – March 10, 2016 (Thurs.)

  1. Examination Fee + Examination Admission Ticket = 2,000 yen
  2. Examination Fee + Examination Admission Ticket + *Thank You party participation fee = 5,000 yen
  3. Examination Fee + Examination Admission Ticket + Thank You party Participation Fee + *Study Tour Participation Fee = 10,000 yen

Acceptance date: April 29, 2016 (Fri.)

Certification Ceremony: May, 2016 at the Akkeshi Sakura・Oyster Festival Site

Contact Information:
Postal Code: 088-1143,
Akkeshi Gun, Akkeshi Cho, Oota 3,
Takeda Corporation
TEL (0153)52-7600

*Thank You Party – After the examination a Thank You party will be held, where you can eat delicious Akkeshi Oysters!
– Participation fee = 3,000 yen/person
For any questions, please contact: Takeda Corporation, TEL 0153-52-7600

*Study Tour – The 6th study tour on Food, Culture, and the Environment will be held on March 19, 2016 (Sat.). “Taste the Double-Milk”
– Slots will be open only for the first 23 people
– Participation fee = 5,000 yen/person

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Set of questions on Oysters created and published by the NPO’s executive committee

This Questionnaire is for sale for 1,000 yen per booklet. If you would like to do the examination, please order one.

Ordering Detail:
Akkeshi Fishery Cooperatives Association Direct Sales Store
Akkeshi Taste Terminal・Conchiglia, Tabata
Takeda Corporation
* Ordering Detail in Japanese is found on the first image.

Japan’s First Dam Removal Site: Ecology & Engineering of Kuma River

On June 12 and 13, 2015, I attended a two-day event, organized by Ecology and Civil Engineering Society, in Kumamoto City.  A symposium was held on the afternoon of the 12th and an all-day field trip was arranged for the 13th, for discussing sedimentation in water flows from the river to the sea.  The presentations focused on many initiatives on Kuma River, which has received international attention for being the first river in Japan with a major dam removal projectthe Arase Dam.

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The Friday symposium was kicked off by Sumi Tetsuya (Kyoto University), who presented on the problem of dams and sedimentation.  He talked about the problems caused by sedimentation, such as changes to the downstream environment, and some examples of solutions, such as bypass channels and dredging, in Japan and around the world.  Professor Sumi focused on dam removal as one of these solutions to the problem of sedimentation, and discussed the change in sedimentation, water quality, and environmental changes after a dam is removed.

P1040668This was followed by Horiuchi Shinji, who formerly headed the Arase Dam removal team of Kumamoto Prefecture.  He explained the history of Arase Dam, from its construction in the immediate postwar period when the hydroelectric plant supplied power to the area, to the process of building general consensus to dismantle the dam.  With great detail he explained the six-stage dismantling process, still underway, which was planned through talks with the sweetfish (ayu) fishing cooperatives so as to halt any work during the fish’s spawning season.  He also discussed the environmental monitoring efforts, whose results thus far indicate that the dam removal is having, overall, a positive effect on the environment, such as increased vegetation, more variety of sediment size, and the formation of rapids and pools in the river.

Asazaki Katsuyuki presented on the effort to release sediment built up behind dams on Mimikawa River in Oita Prefecture.  As the vice head of the Mimikawa River Hydropower Management Office of Kyushu Electric, Asazaki explained that environmental concerns as well as safety concerns were the reasons for adding water gates to two dams so as to prevent sediment build up.  He presented on results of environmental monitoring, which showed evidence of growing variability in habitats for various river creatures, some of which are registered as endangered species.

P1040734The next presenter, Onikura Norio (Kyushu University), presented on his finding from an on-going research project to measure the effect of the sedimentation flowing due to the Arase Dam removal in the delta of the Kuma River.  A biologist who specializes in brackish and freshwaters of river estuaries, he is part of a “working group” of biologists and civil engineers who are overseeing a few nature restoration projects along Kuma River.  He noted that the dam removal seems to have resulted in increased variety of sedimentation particle size and elevation — two key factors in providing a wider range of habitats the area.

The next presentation was by Takigawa Kiyoshi a professor emeritus of Kumamoto University who has headed and is still involved in environmental monitoring projects for Ariake and Yatsushiro Seas.  For this occasion he gave an overview of the two seas and then focused on the Yatsushiro Sea, into which Kuma River flows.  Prof. Takigawa explained how these seas are environmentally degrading because not enough water is flowing into the sea.  Coastal land reclamation have further deteriorated the tidal mudflats for many creatures in these seas.  He explained a few of the initiatives that are in the works to restore these valuable marine environments.

Lastly Shimatani Yukihiro (Kyushu University), who presented on the role of sedimentation management in river restoration efforts.  He foregrounded his discussion with a general overview of how different components of the river provide habitat for living creatures.  Then he discussed the specific effects of dams on sedimentation in rivers, such as the reduction of larger particles downstream and the lowering of the river bed, for example.  He then introduced the Hachinoji Wier Restoration Project on Kuma River, which incorporate the revival of a river engineering technique from the early Tokugawa period.

The final event was a panel discussion in which the speakers summarized the presentations and answered a few questions from the audience.  The discussion moved to the difficulties in evaluating these nature restoration projects because of the lack of concrete targets when it comes to recreating a suitable habitat for wildlife.  Another issue raised was the general sense that this association has done more work in river restoration compared to the sea, perhaps because of the complexity of the ocean compared to that of rivers.

P1040624The second day was a field trip to Kuma River.  About 80 participants hopped on two buses from Kumamoto City.  It rained most of the time but the trip participants managed to visit the major restoration projects along the river.

The group stopped by the following spots:

  • Yōhai Weir – Hachinoji Weir
  • Arase Dam Removal Site
  • Nakakita Area Reed Field Restoration Site
  • Minami River Tidal Flat – Biosurvey of fish and crabs
  • Yatsushiro Port Seashore Restoration Experiment Site

At each site, we were given explanation of the project by the key members involved in these projects.  We unfortunately couldn’t see much of the Hachinoji Weir, because of the rain and the rise in the water level.  But we were able to walk on the remaining parts of the Arase Dam removal site — parts that are scheduled to be dismantled later this year.  The tidal flats areas downstream were fascinating, as some of us were able to walk far onto the flats.  Graduate students, who was spending the morning in the mud, showed us many species of fish and crab that are on the IUCN endangered species list.  It was a great opportunity to hear about these projects from those directly involved in them.

For lunch we went to a restaurant that specializes local cuisine, including boar meat and shaku ayu — large sweetfish that grow to be as large as 30cm.  During lunch we heard from Shoko Tsuru, who heads a local NGO involved in the environmental restoration of Kuma River.

All in all, the two-day event provided a unique perspective on the state of river engineering in Japan today, especially as it pertains to the work of nature restoration.