AT least two Japanese seafood companies have unveiled plans to start commercial shipments of farmed fish from closed containment facilities later this year.
The processors are Maruha Nichiro and Nippon Suisan Kaisha or Nissui, which owns the Waitrose supplier Caistor Seafoods, near Grimsby.
Although Japan buys huge amounts of farmed fish, including salmon from Scotland and Norway, it has been slower than other Asian countries to plunge into aquaculture in a big way.
But that is starting to change following the development of new inland farm technology that has enabled traditional fishing companies to diversify.
Maruha Nichiro, whose history stretches back almost 140 years, is one of Japan’s oldest fishing companies, but has only really become a global player in the past 20 years.
It now has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and in the Channel Islands.
The group owns an inland farm in Yuza, a small town on the north-west coast of Japan, where it has developed new advanced technologies to cultivate sakura-masu, a variety of salmon popular in Japan, also known as cherry salmon.
The company has also done a lot of work on breeding tuna for eventual harvesting.
Meanwhile, Nissui, another marine products global player, which acquired Caistor Seafoods from Sealord in March 2017, is working on a project to launch its cultured whiteleg shrimp on to the market.
Trials have already started and commercial operations should be underway by early spring, says the company.
And a third player, the trading house Mitsui & Co, part of the industrial giant of the same name, is also reportedly planning to sell salmon farmed in Japan later this year.