Membership wanes in Japan’s fishery co-op -- Mar 12
Fishery cooperative membership has fallen 24.4 percent in the period from the end of the 2010 fiscal year through March 2019 in three northeast Japan prefectures hit hardest by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami – Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima – according to a Kyodo News survey.

The membership decline in Miyagi Prefecture was the greatest, with the number of regular members falling by half, the survey said. Nationwide membership fell by 18.7 percent, the survey found.

Fisheries cooperatives in Japan have priority access to aquaculture sites and fishing within three kilometers of shore; They do not cover the distant-water fishery. Regular members of the cooperatives are those who work at sea, while family members and processers can be associate members.

The declining numbers in cooperative membership are in line with a general trend of an aging workforce and lack of successors in the industry. For the disaster areas, the latest figures reflect three influences, according to the survey. First, in Fukushima Prefecture, there was a long period of restriction on the fishery due to radiation concerns, and some areas were completely evacuated. Some of Fukushima’s former fishermen have also maintained their membership, as it qualifies them for compensation income.

Additionally, with the destruction of vessels and port facilities, some older fishermen decided against making new investments in replacements. Lastly, the relocation of many coastal villagers to higher ground made work on the water inconvenient in areas impacted by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Despite the sharp drop in fishery cooperative membership, data from the Fishery Census released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in early March shows that fishery production in the hard-hit prefectures has mostly recovered.