July 2015: The Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS)

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Wednesday 22nd July 2015

Back in July I was delighted to visit the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences, or JIRCAS, in Tsukuba, thanks to my friend Dr Marcy Wilder who is involved in shrimp aquaculture there. At first glance there is no obvious link between JIRCA and scuba diving, but as I prepare to start an online MSc in Sustainable Aquaculture with the University of St Andrews in Scotland next month, I’m more than keen to start delving into the world of aquaculture here in Japan.

JIRCAS is what’s known as an “Incorporated Administrative Agency” that comes under Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and plays a key role in international collaborations in agriculture, forestry and fisheries research in Japan.  JIRCAS’s aim is to provide solutions to global food and environmental problems and a stable supply of agricultural forestry and fishery products and resources.

In the fields of fisheries and aquaculture, research at JIRCAS consists of three important areas: the sustainable utilisation of living aquatic resources, technology that doesn’t negatively impact on biological diversity, and socioeconomic studies on the marketing and distribution of aquatic products.

Today shrimp farming is a significant industry worldwide and production is increasing rapidly to meet demand.  The industry has grown in Southeast Asia in particular, but the farming methods involved have often been controversial and resulted in environmental problems and a shortage of shrimp spawners.  Marcy is currently working as a senior research scientist at JIRCAS.  Her research covers areas such as reproduction, osmoregulation and technology to control female maturation in captivity. She is also developing land-based re-circulating systems with zero impact on the environment, and her technology is being used to produce shrimp in the mountains of Niigata prefecture near Myoko.  As she showed me around the labs, I got to see some of the shrimp she is working on and hear more about her research, including the current status of freshwater prawn culture in Vietnam and the light perception capability of shrimp. I was really impressed, not just by the vast amount of research that’s going into a single species, but also by the possibilities Marcy’s technology entails, and hope that its implementation will contribute to the sustainability of shrimp aquaculture and to an even better environment.

About Rising Bubbles

Bonnie Waycott is a dive master and writer focusing on Japan's scuba diving and aquaculture. She is currently taking an MSc in Sustainable Aquaculture at the University of St Andrews via distance learning and is due to graduate in December 2017. Her written work has been featured in Asian Diver, Scuba Diver AustralAsia, DIVE, Marine Biologist, The Fish Site, Fish Farmer, Hatchery International and Outdoor Japan Traveler, while for Japanese divers she writes about marine-related issues abroad for Japanese diving website Ocean+α. You can follow Bonnie on Twitter (@risingbubbles), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RisingBubblesNotesOfANewDiver/) and Instagram (@bonniewaycott).
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One Response to July 2015: The Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS)

  1. Mr. Terry Jenkins says:

    Interesting post ; The Fish Site .com has an informative review of the prawn industries’ regulations. I visited the Paint Bank State Fish Hatchery , in Paint Bank , Va when I lived in Virginia . Trout fishing there relies heavily on Stocked Trout ; opening day can be elbow to elbow in some places . YouTube has some good video of ” Paint Bank,Va Fish Hatchery – Outside ” …… I worked for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory my last 2 1/2 years in Virginia ; their data recording dishes are a bit north east of Paint Bank in Green Bank , W. Va. . Mr. Terry Jenkins

    Like

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