The Jusanhama Gyokyo Youth Association – a group of 19 producers – has acquired the Aquaculture Stewardship Council-Marine Stewardship Council (ASC-MSC) seaweed certification for responsible and sustainable wakame and kelp production. This is the first group of farms to achieve the ASC-MSC seaweed Group Certification for wakame and kelp in Japan.
Social enterprise Fish and Planet, Inc. is the exclusive local buyer of the certified seaweed products from Jusanhama Gyokyo Youth Association. These products will be available for consumers at Aeon supermarkets under the brand name Topvalu, and at certain organic supermarkets in Japan.
In October 2022, Fish and Planet, Inc. and the Jusanhama Gyokyo Youth Association were awarded the Leadership Award for Japan Sustainable Seafood Award at the Tokyo Sustainable Seafood Summit (TSSS).
‘We are very excited to see ASC-MSC certified seaweed in supermarkets across Japan. This means consumers can play an active role in protecting the environment. By looking at the label, consumers are assured that the seaweed they buy is produced in a responsible manner with a minimal impact on the surrounding natural environment,’ said Patricia Bianchi, seaweed account manager for both MSC and ASC.
The Jusanhama Gyokyo Youth Association mainly consists of successors of family members who have been farming wakame and kelp for generations in Jusanhama, Kitakami Town, Ishinomaki City and Miyagi Prefecture. After the major earthquake and tsunami of 2011 hit their aquaculture facilities, the group started to rebuild their farms together.
Today, the group produces about 180 tonnes of wakame and 120 tonnes of kelp annually. The sale of certified wakame and kelp is planned for the beginning of 2023 under Topvalu and in organic supermarkets. The group plans to sell packed fresh and dried wakame and kelp products.
‘We want to contribute to a sustainable fisheries industry and provide a stable income for our fishermen. We decided to partner with Fish & Planet, Inc. to achieve this seaweed certification together to strengthen our brand and expand our market and sales channels,’ Jusanhama Gyokyo Youth Association leader Syota Abe commented.
‘As ASC-MSC seaweed certification is recognised internationally to show producers’ commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility, we believe the opportunities for our products will grow
Fish & Planet, Inc. is a social enterprise that has been working with small-scale artisanal fisheries and aquaculture producers to accelerate towards sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. It plans to purchase certified wakame and kelp produced by the group and sell them to domestic and overseas seafood markets. In the future, Fish & Planet will also support the acquisition of certification by other groups of producers.
‘Currently, our marine environment is deteriorating, ultimately affecting our production and fisheries. We want to ensure that the future generation will not suffer and that our children and grandchildren will inherit a better world,’ said Hiroshi Norito, founder and managing director of Fish and Planet.
‘This project is led by a group of young producers who want to strongly change the current state of society. We want to create a pioneering model and expand similar projects to other small producers. By doing so, we hope to realise our social vision.’