For the first time in history, fish from the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) was imported into Japan on September 27 this year. “It was a big day for the fisheries industry in both the Marshall Islands and Japan,” Reiko Takada, Pacific Island Centre’s Promotion Coordinator told Pacific Periscope.
The Pacific Islands Centre, based in Tokyo, is part of the Fiji-based Pacific Island Forum Secretariat’s Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) network of offices. PTI’s other offices are in Auckland, Sydney, Beijing and Geneva.
Shipments of White Mottled Grouper and Speckled Blue Grouper from RMI debuted at the Tsukiji Fish Market, amidst the relocation to the new Toyosu Fish Market, Ms Takada said.
Takuya Hikita, Tsukiji Fish Market Inc., imported the shipment of fish. In 2014, It all began when Mr. Hikita exchanged business cards with a Pacific Islands Centre (PIC) staff member in a networking event of embassies in Tokyo. The brief discussion on fish imports from RMI set him off on this initiative.
“Mr. Hikita had been very eager to find new fish species for the Japanese market,” Ms Takada said. The Pacific Islands, with their vast oceanic area was an obvious place to look. He was convinced of the existence of new fish species that would be suited to Japanese consumers other than Tuna or Bonito, as he had observed as a regular bidder at Tsukiji Fish Market.
“Mr. Hikita continued his interaction with PIC and in 2017, PIC approached Mr. Hikita to consider visiting the Marshall Islands, as a member of Public-Private Partnership Economic Mission,” Ms Takada said.
“Although he could not join the mission, he had a strong determination to import fish from RMI after obtaining information of the country sent by the PIC staff,” she added.
The information included photos of processing facilities in the fish market, various fish for shipment, and information of details about the Moi farm (Moi is Pacific Threadfin and considered an exclusive fish in Hawaii) as well as introduction of Japanese business people and volunteer staff who mainly engage in fish industry in the Marshall Islands, so he could compare notes and gather more information.
“This first fish import from the Marshall Islands was realised following these developments and Mr. Hikita’s extraordinary leadership. The passion of all concerned made this first fish import from the Marshall Islands happen,” Ms Takada said.
Based on the experience of this first shipment, Mr. Hikita and his team are drawing up plans to import new fish species from other Pacific Island Countries in the future. At the same time, they are finding ways to improve the transportation and in-transit processes to preserve the freshness of the catch in future shipments.
“PIC renews its resolve to support them, wishing them success in their future endeavors,” Ms Takada said.
For more information email Pacific Islands Centre’s Promotion Coordinator Reiko Takada at firstname.lastname@example.org