Japan’s biggest seafood companies eyeing up inland salmon farms

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Japanese companies Maruha Nichiro and Nippon Suisan Kaisha (Nissui) are planning to change focus from catching fish to inland fish farming.

Two of Japan’s largest seafood companies, Maruha Nichiro and Nippon Suisan Kaisha, or Nissui, are expected to start commercial shipments of fish farmed in land-based facilities in Japan, reports Nikkei.

Maruha Nichiro farms a variety of salmon known locally as “sakuramasu”. The trading house developed the system with valve maker Kitz and expects to ship its first batch  soon.

Maruha president Shigeru Ito told the publication that he aims to market the fish as a Japanese product in a country that relies on imports for 90% of its salmon consumption. In 2016, Japan imported 34,000 tons of Norwegian salmon and that number is set to grow.

Fish from Japan’s new wave of indoor farms “will sell for high unit prices because they can be shipped live,” said Nissui President Akiyo Matono. “We want to profit from this by getting ahead of our rivals as much as possible, if only by a year or two.”

New technologies and legal revisions make are making aquaculture more appealing. FRD Japan, a Mitsui subsidiary specialised in inland fish-farming, is currently planning to produce 1,500 tonnes of salmon per year.

Last December, the Japanese parliament approved the amended Fisheries Act, aiming to encourage more companies to enter the fish farming business by changing the fishing rights system. However the new Act has not been issued yet.