Last updated on 8 May 2018

SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Sardinops sagax

SPECIES NAME(s)

South American pilchard

COMMON NAMES

Japanese pilchard, Japanese sardine, maiwashi

Scientists have identified two stocks of South American pilchard in the waters around Japan: the Pacific Ocean stock and the Tsushima Warm Current stock. The stock designations are based on spawning times and areas, as observed from research surveys conducted around Japan. We have not found evidence of stock structure research involving comparisons with samples from outside of Japan. The Pacific stock spawns November to June from Shikoku to the Kanto region, while the Tsushima stock spawns January to June from around Nagasaki to Toyama prefecture (Fisheries Research and Education Agency of Japan 2017). Although they are assessed separately, the stocks are essentially managed together, with a single TAC set for the two stocks combined. Management responsibilities and actions are largely conducted at the national level, although fishing licenses, especially for smaller purse seine vessels, may be issued at the prefectural level.

This stock may be transboundary, but since 1994, foreign vessels have not harvested this stock within Japan’s EEZ (Yukami et al. 2017). Russian vessels targeted pilchard from 1974 to 1993 before the fishery ceased in 1994 (Zhigalin and Belayev 1999). Korean fisheries harvest modest quantities of pilchard from the Tsushima Warm Current stock but not the Japanese Pacific stock (National Institute of Fisheries Science, Korea n.d.). There is very little information on harvests by China and Taiwan, although pilchard, potentially from the Tsushima Warm Current stock, is a bycatch species in the Yellow Sea.


ANALYSIS

Strengths
  • Japanese fisheries harvest two South American pilchard stocks, the Japanese Pacific Ocean and Tsushima Warm Current stocks.
  • Both stocks are assessed every year and are managed by total allowable catch (TAC). The TAC has only been exceeded once since the system was implemented in 1997.
  • Although not at a high abundance level, the Japanese Pacific stock is above its limit reference point and appears to be increasing in recent years.
  • A good amount of information about the fishery and relevant ecosystems is publicly available.
Weaknesses
  • The TAC is set for both stocks combined, so harvests are not managed by stock. In addition, total harvests are sometimes substantially below the TAC, suggesting that the TAC may not always effectively limit harvests.
  • The purse seine fishery is essentially multispecies, and some of the other target species, such as Japanese anchovy and Japanese horse mackerel, are at low abundance levels.
Options
  • A more precautionary harvest strategy that considers the multispecies nature of the fishery could better support recovery of depleted species.

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

≥ 6

Managers Compliance:

10

Fishers Compliance:

10

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

≥ 6

Future Health:

≥ 6


FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

No related MSC fisheries

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Japanese Pacific Japan Pacific and Tsushima Warm Current Japan Boat seines
Purse seines

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 8 May 2018

Strengths
  • Japanese fisheries harvest two South American pilchard stocks, the Japanese Pacific Ocean and Tsushima Warm Current stocks.
  • Both stocks are assessed every year and are managed by total allowable catch (TAC). The TAC has only been exceeded once since the system was implemented in 1997.
  • Although not at a high abundance level, the Japanese Pacific stock is above its limit reference point and appears to be increasing in recent years.
  • A good amount of information about the fishery and relevant ecosystems is publicly available.
Weaknesses
  • The TAC is set for both stocks combined, so harvests are not managed by stock. In addition, total harvests are sometimes substantially below the TAC, suggesting that the TAC may not always effectively limit harvests.
  • The purse seine fishery is essentially multispecies, and some of the other target species, such as Japanese anchovy and Japanese horse mackerel, are at low abundance levels.
Options
  • A more precautionary harvest strategy that considers the multispecies nature of the fishery could better support recovery of depleted species.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 8 May 2018

The Fisheries Research and Education Agency of Japan (FRA) conducts an annual stock assessment, with the 2017 assessment being the most recent (summary available at http://abchan.fra.go.jp/digests2017/html/2017_01.html). Compared to some other Japanese stock assessments, the pilchard assessments are relatively detailed and well documented. To determine stock status, assessment scientists use cohort analysis to estimate biomasses at age and evaluate spawning stock biomass (SSB) against a biomass limit reference point (Blimit) of 221,000 t. Blimit was the estimated SSB in 1996, a level below which recruitment is thought to be poor (Yukami et al. 2017). The cohort analysis, also commonly called a virtual population analysis, is adjusted using both fishery independent and dependent information (Yukami et al. 2017). Key sources of input data include total landings, numbers of fish caught by age and year (based on body length composition in survey catches and market landings), egg production (based on research surveys), a recruitment index (based on surveys of juveniles), and fish distributions (based on pelagic fish surveys). Purse seine vessel CPUE is used as an abundance indicator (Furuichi et al. 2018). The pelagic fish surveys appear to be fishery-independent and may include adults, but survey data are used to determine fish distributions rather than to generate a fishery-independent abundance index.

The stock assessment model is run with varying catch scenarios and accounts for uncertainty in recruitment through resampling, where each catch scenario is run 1,000 times (Yukami et al. 2017). Resampling results are compared to results from the model that does not consider uncertainty, to confirm that outputs are similar. Model parameters are adjusted as new information is obtained, for example from more recent research surveys. The model does not consider climatic covariates. Model results are used to generate the allowable biological catch (ABC) for the stock, which in turn is used to set the total allowable catch (TAC).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 8 May 2018

Based on stock assessment model results, FRA scientists recommend allowable biological catches (ABCs) for the Pacific Ocean and Tsushima Warm Current stocks every year. To estimate the ABC, FRA scientists model three scenarios: (1) maintaining harvest at the current rate (catch rate = Fcurrent), (2) maintaining the current SSB (catch rate = Fmed), and (3) increasing SSB to SSB30%SPR (catch rate = F30%SPR). Four parameters, the fishing mortality rate, exploitation rate (catch divided by stock size), SSB, and ABC, are estimated for each scenario. Within each scenario, a limit and precautionary target (0.8 of the limit) is provided for the fishing mortality and the exploitation rates. The target value is intended to account for uncertainty in stock projections. Based on the management objective for that year, the ABClimit and ABCtarget are selected from one of the scenarios. Because recruitment for pilchard varies greatly from year to year, stock assessment scientists consider the high uncertainty when selecting a scenario. Managers then set the TAC, which is to be set no higher than the ABC recommended by the stock assessment scientists (Japan Fisheries Agency 2017).

The FRA has independent legal status from the Japan Fisheries Agency (JFA), the primary managing body. However, both the FRA and JFA are governmental agencies, so the scientific advice provided by the FRA should not be considered completely independent. Scientists at academic institutions may provide feedback on stock assessments, but in general, independent scientific input into the management process appears limited.

Reference Points

Last updated on 08 May 2018

FRA rates stock status as low, medium, or high based on two spawning stock biomass reference points. The first is a biomass limit reference point (Blimit) of 221,000 t, the estimated SSB in 1996, a level below which recruitment is thought to be poor (Yukami et al. 2017). When the estimated SSB is below this point, stock status is rated low. The second stock status reference point does not have a specific name in the assessment, so we will call it Bhigh. Bhigh is 5 million t, and stock status is rated high if SSB is above it. If SSB is above Blimit and below Bhigh, stock status is rated medium.

There is also a Bban of 22,000 t, a reference point below which the fishery is closed (Yukami et al. 2017).

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 8 May 2018

Estimated biomass has shown an increasing trend since 2009, although abundances are much lower than they were in the 1980s and early 1990s. The most recent, 2016 estimate of SSB was 891,000 t, significantly above the Blimit of 221,000 t and an increase from the 2015 estimate of 561,000 t. Thus the stock is currently above PRI and is potentially recovering. The FRA stock assessment does not include an official target reference point but mentions a management goal of maintaining current SSB. There is no stated objective to rebuild the stock to an official target reference point such as Bhigh, although the FRA stock assessment mentions a management goal of maintaining current SSB.

Current age composition of catches is mostly age 0 and 1 fish, which have not had the chance to spawn because pilchard mature around age 2. However, modeled age composition data indicate that recruitment has been strong in recent years, particularly in 2015, and estimated proportions of age 2 and 3 fish have increased since 2011 (Yukami et al. 2017). Although SSB is not very high compared to historical abundances, recruitment appears to be improving. It is also worth noting that environmental regimes and factors have historically affected stock abundance (Noto and Yasuda 1999; Takasuka et al. 2008). There are no regulations explicitly banning discards, but discards are generally minimal in Japanese purse seine fisheries because most species have some value (e.g. for fishmeal), and discarding slows down fishing operations on the vessel. There is no evidence that discarding issues affect the stock.

Trends

Last updated on 08 May 2018

Harvests of Japanese pilchard are not monitored by stock, but the stock assessment models provide stock-specific catch estimates (Furuichi et al. 2018). For the Japanese Pacific stock, catches were high in the 1980s at over 2.5 million t per year, then declined sharply to fluctuate around 100,000-300,000 t from 1995 to 2001. Catches were lowest (less than 100,000 t) from 2002 to 2010, but gradually increased to 314,000 t in 2016.

Estimated spawning stock biomass (SSB) was highest during the 1980s at over 10 million t. SSB declined sharply after the 1990s, eventually falling to about 100,000 t from 2002 to 2009. Recruitment improved starting in 2008, and fishing mortality decreased around that time as well. Estimated SSBs increased after 2011, and the 2016 estimate was 891,000 t (Furuichi et al. 2018).

Estimated total stock biomass trends followed the same historical patterns as SSB.

Estimated age composition of catches reflect the overall low abundance since 2000, as well as some signs of recovery after 2010. Recent catches have mostly consisted of age 0 and 1 fish, but recruitment appeared to be strong in 2010 because proportions of age 2 and age 3 fish were high in 2012 and 2013, respectively (Yukami et al. 2017). In addition, numbers of age 0 fish were high in 2014 and 2015, suggesting strong recruitment in those years.

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 8 May 2018

For 2017, the stated management objective was to maintain a productive level of recruitment by keeping SSB above the Blimit of 221,000 t (Furuichi et al. 2018). Managers combined the ABCs recommended by the stock assessment scientists to set a total allowable catch (TAC) for both stocks, which was allocated among prefectures that catch pilchard (Japan Fisheries Agency 2017). Harvest management by TAC was first implemented for pilchard in 1997, and since that time, the TAC has been exceeded once in 2007 (Japan Fisheries Agency 2017). In other years, the actual catch was on the order of 6,000 to 240,000 t below the TAC. Overall it appears that scientific advice is followed, but TAC may sometimes be set at a level that does not effectively limit catches. The exact cause is uncertain but may be partially due to the stock assessment being influenced by historical catch data, and ABC calculations not being adjusted for actual fishing capacity. In addition, the current management objective is to maintain rather than increase SSB, so recommended catch levels are not especially conservative.  

There is a basic harvest control rule in place. If SSB falls below the Bban of 22,000 t, the fishery is closed. Bban is the estimated lowest abundance during the low abundance period of the 1950s and 1960s (Wada and Jacobson 1998).

Management of the pilchard juvenile (shirasu) fishery is somewhat distinct from management of the fisheries targeting older fish. For example, open and closed fishing periods may be set for shirasu specifically (Aichi Fisheries Research Institute 2018), and there is no TAC for shirasu.

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 08 May 2018

The JFA does not consider this stock depleted, and no official recovery plan is currently in place according to its recovery plan website (http://www.jfa.maff.go.jp/j/suisin/s_keikaku/). Recovery plans are implemented on an ad-hoc basis when fishers or managers identify the need, rather than being triggered under specified circumstances (Makino 2011). However, the pilchard fishery does have a harvest control rule, as the fishery is supposed to be closed if estimated SSB falls below the Bban of 22,000 t (Yukami et al. 2017). Interim measures are not explicitly required if the SSB falls below Blim.

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 8 May 2018

Harvest management by TAC was first implemented for pilchard in 1997, and since that time, the TAC has been exceeded once in 2007. The 2007 catch was 71,409 t, whereas TAC was set at 35,000 t in January and then revised to 60,000 t in July (Japan Fisheries Agency 2017). TACs can be revised during the fishing season if one of the following three cases occurs (Japan Fisheries Agency 2009). The first is if ABC has been re-calculated based on new data. The second case is if fishing ground conditions shift to the extent that catch allocations, which are based on historical catches, need to be adjusted. The third case applies to transboundary stocks shared with other countries. To allow fishers to maximize harvests when the stock migrates to Japanese waters, the TAC may be adjusted if fishing conditions appear good. For pilchard, the first and second cases have been applied, typically resulting in the TAC being increased mid-season (Japan Fisheries Agency 2009; Japan Fisheries Agency 2017).

Outside of 2007, the actual catch was on the order of 6,000 to 240,000 t below the TAC. TACs are therefore generally complied with. To enforce compliance with TAC, the JFA will notify fishermen if the TAC is being approached, but surveillance and penalties for violations are reportedly minimal.

It is not known whether IUU fishing is occurring. However because TACs are usually set at high levels, and penalties for exceeding TAC are not severe, there is probably little incentive to harvest pilchard illegally.

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 8 May 2018

Japanese fishing vessels are not required to monitor encounters with ETP species, so information on ETP impacts is limited. Although bycatch and incidental capture of ETP species have been studied in purse seine fisheries targeting tuna, information for purse seine vessels targeting other pelagic fish is less common. One exception is an Australian study that found that dolphins were sometimes encircled by and died in purse seine nets targeting sardines, although dolphin mortality could be reduced drastically with the implementation of avoidance and release practices (Hamer et al. 2008). Tuna purse seine fisheries incidentally catch sea turtles, especially when fish aggregating devices (FADs) are used, but fisheries targeting sardine generally do not use FADs and may pose less risk to turtles (Debski 2013). Purse seines are not considered high risk to seabirds, though diving birds may sometimes be caught (American Bird Conservancy 2012). The JFA maintains a Red List of ETP species for marine organisms (http://www.jfa.maff.go.jp/j/press/sigen/170321.html) but has not prescribed mortality limits.

According to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) catch statistics (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries 2017), some larger purse seine vessels targeting small pelagics catch small quantities of Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis), which is a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List (Collette, B. et al. 2014). Harvest of bluefin tuna is permitted, although regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) have recommended reducing harvest levels (International Scientific Committee 2014). In accordance with RFMO recommendations, the JFA has implemented catch limits on juvenile and adult Pacific bluefin tuna (4,007 t for juveniles < 30 kg and 4,882 t for adults > 30 kg as of 2017; (Japan Fisheries Agency 2017). These catch limits are further subdivided by gear type and/or prefecture, with purse seines limited to an annual catch of 2,000 t. Monitoring information suggests that purse seine fisheries did not exceed their limit in 2017, but some nearshore and prefectural governor managed fisheries did exceed their limits (Japan Fisheries Agency 2017).

Other Species

Last updated on 8 May 2018

The fishery is essentially multispecies because Japanese purse seine fishermen are not required to select a target species, and they capture a variety of pelagic species. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) fishery statistics database, Japanese purse seine catches include significant quantities (> 5% of the total catch by weight) of red-eye round herring (Etrumeus teres), Japanese anchovy (Engraulis japonicus), Japanese horse mackerel (Trachurus japonicus), chub and blue mackerel (Scomber japonicus and S. australasicus), and Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata) and related species (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries 2017). These are all considered target rather than bycatch species.

Some of these other target species are regularly assessed and have stock reference points. Of the assessed species, the Pacific stocks of Japanese anchovy and Japanese horse mackerel were determined to have low status in 2017, with high exploitation rates likely contributing. Japanese horse mackerel is managed by TAC, while Japanese anchovy is not. Harvests of horse mackerel have been less than the TAC since 1997 (Japan Fisheries Agency 2017). However, the TAC may have been set at a high level that does not effectively limit harvests, because catches are often substantially below the TAC, and SSB of the Pacific stock has not shown a clear increase since TAC implementation (Watari et al. 2018). The JFA does not specify management guidelines for Japanese anchovy stocks at the national level, but many prefectures have management measures, such as non-fishing days, for the species or for gear types that target anchovy (Japan Fisheries Agency 2013).

Catches of any economically less desirable species are not usually quantified, and we found no evidence of official regulations for reducing bycatch.

HABITAT

Last updated on 8 May 2018

Fishers follow operational regulations stipulated by their license or permit, prefecture, and local fishery cooperative associations (FCAs). These regulations define areas that can be fished, fishing seasons, and gears that can be used. Additionally, some areas are designated for specific uses such as stationary traps and aquaculture, and there are joint fisheries rights areas managed by FCAs. The Japan Coast Guard maintains maps of these designated areas, as well as maps of several coastal habitat types including seaweed beds, wetlands, tidal flats, and coral reefs (http://www2.kaiho.mlit.go.jp/).

Purse seine fisheries operate in areas specified by their permits. The gear is operated within upper layers of the water column and generally does not contact bottom habitat (FAO 2001). Habitat impacts are therefore minimal.

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 08 May 2018

As described under the habitat section, Japan has some spatial management in place, where licenses/permits determine the areas that vessels can fish. Some prefectural governments and fishery cooperative associations also specify limited fishing seasons. Additionally, Japan has a system of coastal and marine parks, which aim to protect scenery and natural environments, important ecological areas including spawning habitat, and cultivation areas for fishery organisms (Ministry of the Environment, Japan 2011). Wildlife protection areas (鳥獣保護区) and protected living areas (生息地等保護区) are established specifically to protect native and rare species.

FishSource Scores

Last updated on 8 May 2018

SELECT SCORES

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2017 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

Management objectives are set for the stock (e.g. to maintain current SSB), and there is a harvest control rule that closes fishing if SSB is below a specified level (Bban). However, there are no interim measures in the harvest control rule if the stock falls below Blim, so the level of precaution is not especially high.

Different components of this stock score differently at the fishery level. Please look at the individual fisheries using the selection drop down above.

Different components of this stock score differently at the fishery level. Please look at the individual fisheries using the selection drop down above.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2017 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

The stock is above a limit where recruitment is thought to be impaired (Blim). No target reference point or MSY-based proxy has been defined. 

As calculated for 2017 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

Fishing mortality is estimated in stock assessments and used to calculate an ABC, which is used to set a TAC. The TAC is not usually exceeded. There is no F reference point that can be considered a management target, although the stock assessment model scenarios do consider catch rate.

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DATA NOTES
  • Data at the management unit level includes both the Japanese Pacific and the Tsushima Warm Current stock, as a joint TAC is set for both stocks.

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications

Sources

Credits

The content of this profile was develped by Dr Jocelyn Drugan, Ocean Outcomes.

References

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