Climate Change And Fishing Conditions Up In Hokkaido

If you eat fish, here is news about how climate change may be influencing catches of salmon and amberjack, as seasonal catches seem to be all confused. Add to that the many typhoons this year. Update 1: The two typhoons on their way this week will be doing the Fujiwara Interaction, probably during the weekend. Watch out...

But first, a cool video of the old Big Catch Dance...



You do of course understand that all eating of living beings involve that awkward moment of what we call culling or slaughter. Such rather ancient words we have little connection with. But in the video, they quickly make it clear just how you have to "kill" those large, beautiful creatures after pulling them into your boat. I like the honesty... Mostly, today, slaughterhouses ban and forbid filming or photographing of such event, be it for cattle, pigs, chicken. Not fair. Not to you, the consumer, and certainly not fair to the animals/victims.

Here is another great dance performance, from Chiba, about that Big Great Catch.



The Mainichi  has a column I like, called Yoroku. This time, they talk about climate change, and the recent news about changing fishing conditions.

Yoroku: Torrent of typhoons and befuddled fishermen ominous signs of ocean warming


A long time ago, it was said that Japan was a divided nation; divided by fish. In the west of the country, they ate amberjack with their traditional New Year's meal, while in the east it was salmon. The border between these fishy factions was Nagano Prefecture, with salted amberjack from Toyama holding sway as far as Azumino and the Kiso district, and Niigata salted salmon taking over from around Lake Suwa and the Saku area.
While there are probably areas where this culinary tradition persists unchanged, the same cannot be said for the dividing line between the ranges of the fish themselves. The seasonal borders beneath the waves, demarking the habitats of amberjack, salmon and many other species besides, have been shifting in recent years. Nets off the shores of Hokkaido meant to catch autumn salmon have instead been pulling in massive hauls of amberjack. People in the local fishery, needless to say, are apparently quite surprised by the development.
This is not the first time amberjack, which live in warm currents, have got mixed in with the autumn salmon catch. However, fishermen have now pulled in a major amberjack haul during salmon season three years in a row, with this year's catch setting a new record. As you might guess, rising ocean temperatures are behind these out-of-season amberjack bonanzas, and irregular catches of squid, Pacific saury and sardines are hot topics of conversation in the Hokkaido fishing community.
Meanwhile, one need only look at the string of October typhoons around Japan to see that ocean temperatures and atmospheric conditions are changing in southern seas as well. The 27th typhoon of the year -- Typhoon Francisco -- looks like it will approach the Japanese archipelago late this week, but it is in fact the fifth typhoon of the month to pass close to this country's shores -- the most ever recorded for October.
We have heard that the ocean surface temperature east of the Philippines, where typhoons are born, is high, and conditions are ripe for the formation of cumulonimbus clouds -- the dense, towering clouds associated with storms. Already, Typhoon Lekima-- this year's 28th -- is biting at Typhoon Francisco's heels. We haven't seen 30 typhoons in a year since 1994, but that number looks possible this year. Of course, shifting sea temperatures will impact the ocean ecology as well.
Back in Hokkaido, fishermen are happily pulling in a better salmon catch than last year in addition to the amberjack windfall, and so neither the salmon nor the amberjack culinary camps are likely to be disappointed. Though this may be good news for New Year's diners, we worry what this year's odd mixing of warm and cold water currents portends for the future of the abundant waters around Japan. ("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)
October 23, 2013

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