Digital strategy centers eyed to support Japan’s fisheries industry

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Bonitos landed at Kesennuma fishing port in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, in May last year

The government is considering designating two or three “digital fisheries strategy centers” around March next year, to help revitalize the fisheries industry through the use of artificial intelligence and other digital technologies, it has been learned.

After verifying the centers’ viability, the government aims to expand the number of sites nationwide in the future.

The fisheries industry is facing a serious shortage of personnel. The government aims to revitalize the sector by promoting digitization, which will improve operational efficiency, strengthen production areas’ brand power, and increase the income of people engaged in fishery.

Grant aid may be used from the Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation, which was designed to narrow the disparities between urban and rural areas and promoted by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Staff who are familiar with digitization will be dispatched to the centers to promote the integrated digitization of resource management, production, distribution, and other elements. For example, there are hopes of using AI to predict ocean and fishing conditions up to a week in advance, thereby facilitating efficient decisions on whether to go fishing and the selection of fishing grounds.

On board fishing vessels, catches might be instantly measured using image analysis technology, and the data shared with the market before the vessels return to port.

At markets, photos of the fish and information on their arrival would be displayed on a monitor, and bidding might begin before the vessels return to port, using tablet devices.

If the amount of fish caught and other information is shared even before the fish are landed, it will shorten the time it takes to win a bid and make it easier to prepare for transportation and other processes.

Digitization would also promote the operation of a traceability system that records the history of fishery operations from catch to sale. Product information, such as landing time, can be viewed through QR codes that consumers can read with their smartphones.

In conjunction with the designation of the centers, the government plans to set up a “fisheries digital human resource bank,” which will bring together startup companies and others interested in the fisheries industry. The bank will serve as a source of digitally savvy staffers to be dispatched to the centers and who will consult with fishermen there to formulate specific plans.