Kesennuma Blue Shark and Swordfish Longline FIP

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Start dateFebruary 2021-
Scheduled end dateJanuary 2026
LocationNorthwestern Pacific Ocean
ParticipantsKesennuma Distant-Water Fisheries Cooperative and Resource, Miyagi Offshore Tuna Fisheries Association and Economics and Policy Group at Iwate University and Seafood Legacy Co., Ltd.,
Target speciesBlue shark (Prionace glauca), Swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
Fishing equipmentPelagic longline
Production volumeBlue shark: 3,706MT, Swordfish: 1,323MT(2019)
Work planDownload


Kesennuma represents the largest catch of fresh swordfish in Japan. In 2019, 73% (2,221 Mt) of the total catch in Japan (3,033 Mt) * was landed in Kesennuma. It’s also known as the largest place of production of blue shark whose meat is used for surimi. Twelve vessels of offshore longline tuna fleet landing their catch at Kesennuma port will participate in this FIP. And they operate year-round in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, catching 1,323 tonnes of swordfish and 3,706 tonnes of blue sharks (2019).

According to the stock assessment conducted by “The International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species”, the main target species for the fishery, swordfish and blue sharks in the northwestern Pacific are neither overfished nor overfishing. However, many countries have been making an effort for the conservation, sustainability and transparency of the resources of shark, which are the cooperative's main catch target.

In order to demonstrate that their fishery’s sustainability, and accordingly, to stabilize the fishery business and to contribute to the global sustainable fishery, the cooperative has decided to start FIP aiming for MSC certification in 2026.

*Document of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishery and records of Kesennuma fish market


Through this FIP, we will improve the following issues identified in the MSC pre-assessment conducted by the accredited certification body, SCS.

1) Encourage stakeholders
Although there are no major concerns about the stock status of blue sharks, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has not set important fishing policies, management standards, and catch control rules to ensure sustainable use. We will call cooperative work for the Fisheries Agency to ask for collaborative work with Taiwan which also catches blue sharks and the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC) to evaluate scientific management methods.

2) Improve management confirmation method
We will ensure the conditions of the evidence materials whether the management purpose is in accordance with the precautionary principle and whether the relationship with stakeholders established transparently.

3) Improve the robustness of the information such as catch record and environmental impacts on the ecosystem
We will improve the data collection related to catch information (i.e. observer data and logbook data ), and to demonstrate that the fishery is not involved in shark finning. We will also improve the system for data collection related to ecosystem impact and bycatch mitigation technology of endangered and protected species.

Overall, Seafood Legacy developed action and coordinates the implementation of the agreed action plan, and Kesennuma Distant-Water Fisheries Cooperative improves its operation on site according to the plan. Resource Economics and Policy Laboratory at Iwate University will provide scientific knowledge.


This project is implemented based on a year work plan and its progress is reported every six months.

July 2017: MSC Pre-assessment

MSC pre-assessment was conducted.

August 2019: Information Session about FIP

Participants agreed on implementing FIP before MSC full assessment.


January 2020: Preparation

Updated the results of pre-assessment in 2017 and checked the gaps between the current status and MSC requirements.


August 2020: Planning

Started a long-term action plan for improving the issues identified by MSC pre-assessment.

October 2020: Stakeholder meeting

Management body, management governments, scientists, academics, local seafood processors, fishery bodies and NGO discussed the action plan.


December 2020: Finalizing the plan

The action plan including opinions from the stakeholders was finalized.


February 2021: MoU signed

Kesennuma Distant-Water Fisheries Cooperative, Miyagi Offshore Tuna Fisheries Association, Iwate University Resource Economics and Policy Lab, and Seafood Legacy Co., Ltd. signed an MoU.

March 2021: FIP Launched

The FIP was launched(Press Release).

Our services are fully compliant with Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions' Guidelines for Supporting Fishery Improvement.