Sarufutsu village, living with nature

A lot of wind turbines have been installed on the hills of Souya. The development of renewable energy is desired more instead of depending on nuclear power generation. I visited a monument at the tip of Cape Soya. The cape was spacious.

Mr. Shimizu who is a friend of mine gave me a tour of Sarufutsu village. The village is located to the south of Wakkanai. Sarufutsu is the largest village in Hokkaido.

The main industries of Sarufutsu village are fishing and dairy. Many dairy farmers are dotted in the spread land. Sarufutsu has become as the representing place of scallop fishery in Hokkaido since the system of management fishery was introduced. Total fish catch is 50,000 tons per year. Of these, 30,000 tons are raised by releasing the juvenile scallop.

Mr. Shimizu is the staff of a fishermen's cooperative association to manage the scallop fishery. He watches areas of the fishing by boarding Asahi-Maru management fishery ship. He is responsible on important management for 50,000 tons fish catch per year.

He gave me an explanation of the management scallop fishery. Scallop fishing areas are located offshore of Sarufutsu village and divided into five areas. The fishing place of the year is determined from one of five areas every year. Fishermen cannot go fishing to other areas in the same year. Juvenile scallops are released into the fishing place after the fishing period. Then fishermen have to wait five years to go fishing to that area. Scallops can grow during five year, fine scallops are fished again after five years.

About 2,500 tons (about 250 millions pieces) juvenile scallops are released every year, then they become 30,000 tons fish catch.  But total fish catch becomes about 50,000 tons every year. The reason is natural increase. The ocean becomes rich thanks by management fishery. Four of five areas are kept in natural every year.

Mr. Shimizu is carefully observing the growth of scallops in five areas overall. There has been no problem on scallops so far, he says. That means the good catch of scallops have been promised at least next five years. But Mr. Shimizu says, scallops are natural gifts, you cannot see what will happen, so I must observe carefully.

Sarufutsu village has started management scallops fishery because of poverty measures. There used to be a good place for herring and scallop but the catch was plummeted caused by overfishing. Then the village became extremely poor. They had to find the solution.

They made 10-year planning of management scallops fishery under such a painful situation. They couldn't depend on natural fishing anymore. They had no choice. However, it takes at least 5 years to get results by the plan. They had to endure such a painful condition. But Sarufutsu village made it. They are now wealthy. There are many fine houses of Sarufutsu fishermen on the shore. Some people call those "palace scallops".

There are a lot of Itou (Japanese huchen) in the Sarufutsu river. Itou is called one of phantom fish but there are still many there. Anglers have come from far away. Sarufutsu village is managing also such natural resources. They are making effort to coexist with nature.

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