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Seto Inland Sea’s oyster fishery achieves MSC certification - a world first for rope-grown oysters

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Friday, December 13, 2019, 19:30 (GMT + 9)

Maruto Suisan Co. Ltd., a company based in the city of Aioi in Hyogo Prefecture, has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of sustainability for its oyster fishery in the Seto Inland Sea. It is the first rope grown oyster fishery in the world to receive MSC certification.

The fishery joins Japan’s list of MSC certified fisheries, which include scallops in Hokkaido as well as skipjack and albacore tuna fisheries in Miyagi and Yaizu. All MSC certified fisheries are independently assessed on a set of science-based criteria include ensuring sustainable fish stocks, minimizing environmental impacts and effective management.

MSC certification was awarded to an affiliate fishery of Maruto Suisan. It grows seed oysters from Okayama Prefecture on ropes suspended from rafts in the waters of the Seto Inland Sea off the coast of Okucho. The fishery caught 1,500 tonnes of oysters in 2018, 80 per cent of which were seeds from Okayama. Previously certified oyster fisheries used the dredge method.

Maruto Suisan is a seafood company that processes and sells products made from oysters. Witnessing the growing demand for certified seafood in Japan, it decided to pursue MSC certification in partnership with the local producers and fisheries cooperative in Okucho.

Maruto Suisan president and representative director Kimihiro Kokubo said:

“As a seafood company promoting oysters, we decided to pursue MSC certification as a group initiative because of our belief in the MSC program, which recognises sustainable, eco-friendly fisheries.

“Through the assessment process, we were able to engage with numerous stakeholders and form strong ties with the local fisheries cooperative and oyster producers in Okucho, who provided us with a wealth of knowledge, expertise and appreciation for their commitment to sustainability.

“We are also aware of the responsibility that comes with providing consumers with MSC-certified oysters. We will remain committed to promoting sustainable fishing practices, firm in our belief that the best way to do so is while engaging with consumers to gain their understanding.” 

Marine Stewardship Council program director Japan, Kozo Ishii, said:

“I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to Maruto Suisan and the fishing community of Okucho for their hard work and commitment to sustainable fishing, which has now been recognized with MSC certification.

“Demand for MSC-certified sustainable seafood is seeing rapid growth in Japan. With the increasing adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the sustainability focus at the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, more and more companies in Japan are committing to using sustainable seafood.

“I am confident this certification will help stimulate and respond to demand for sustainable seafood. I wish Maruto Suisan and the fisheries cooperative every success in the future.”

The independent, third-party assessment on the sustainability of the target species, the fishery’s environmental impact and its management system was conducted by Control Union Pesca, which verified the fishery met MSC fisheries standards.

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