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Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: Establishing a Sea Grant Project in Japan (Part 1) [2018年09月20日(Thu)]

This blog post was originally uploaded in
Japanese to OPRI's blog
on April 18, 2018.

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In this article, I would like to write about the Sea
Grant Programs implemented in the United States
and Korea and discuss whether we can establish a
similar program in Japan. I have chosen to divide
my analysis of the program into two parts.
In this first part, I will present a short discussion
on the topic following an introduction of the
program implemented in the U.S.

-Sea Grant Programs in the United States-

Have you heard of programs called “Sea Grants”?
In the US, Sea Grant Programs (SGPs) have been
supporting locally rooted marine industries and
environmental conservation activities through
grants to universities, for about 50 years on a
cross-sectoral basis. Thirty-three programs are
in place across the United States, including the
Great Lakes, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

An SGP is a support project sponsored by the federal
government based on an act called the National Sea
Grant College Program Act enacted in 1966.
It promotes marine-specific education, research and
extension at universities. Initially, the main target
was the development of fishery resources.
However, in recent years, they have extended their
activities to the development of renewable energies,
such as offshore wind farms, disaster prevention
(for high tides and oil spills) and tourism promotion,
depending on the situation in each region.
They are working to solve multiple issues in the
coastal areas. There are 33 programs all over the
U.S., including in Alaska and Hawaii.
The annual budget of the federal government is
68 million dollars, and the programs have created
economic benefits of approximately 8.5 times that
amount to the areas.

角田1.PNG
The SGP spread all over the United States.
(Source: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) website)

One of the features of the programs implemented
by regional universities in coastal areas is that they
are programs based on science. This means that
the most important features of the programs are to
provide solutions utilizing the newest technology for
issues each area has and to provide objective
scientific information for the issues of coastal areas
where various conflicts of interest occur.
For the coastal areas where scientific information on
matters such as tidal currents, water quality,
biological activities and submarine topography is
required, the role of these universities is
immeasurable. While new ways of utilizing the sea,
such as the establishment of offshore wind farms,
have begun, these universities are making efforts
to solve issues and connect the activities of local
governments, enterprises and residents.

We tend to focus on the size of the 68 million dollar
budget from the federal government when
considering the SGP in the United States, but
projects – such as connecting local activities and
forming a national network to connect regions –
which do not necessarily require a large budget,
are also highly valued. With such a network,
the outcomes of a project in one area are shared
and spread throughout the entire nation.

*For more details about the SGP in the United
States, please see an article covering the subject
in Ocean Newsletter No.419.

-Extending SGP to Costal Areas in Japan-

Based on the hypothesis that there are some things
we can do without a large budget, I would like to
discuss briefly whether it is possible to develop a
system similar to the SGP of the United States in
Japan or not, taking into consideration new
movements from the aspects of industrial
applicability, security and environmental
conservation.

First, I will discuss industrial applicability.
As in the United States, the introduction of offshore
wind farms is becoming more realistic in Japan.
Discussions about laws and regulations regarding
the introduction of offshore wind farms into general
waters are now occurring. For example, the Cabinet
submitted the “Bill on the Promotion of the Use of
Territorial Waters for Offshore Renewable Energy
Generation Facilities” last month (March 2018).
How to advance discussions on this new applicability
method while considering the characteristics of the
proposed areas could be an issue, and the bill
allows a committee to be established in order to
gather opinions of the people involved. If we have a
system similar to the SGP, it will allow the committee
to have objective and scientific discussions.

Next comes the topic of security. The Basic Policy**
developed in April 2017 following the enactment of
the “Act of Inhabited Remote Islands on National
Borders” emphasizes the importance of the
sustainability of local communities on the specified
remote islands located on the border of the territorial
seas. However, the importance will be applied not
only to these remote islands but also to the coastal
areas where depopulation and aging is progressing.
Now that wooden boats have been steadily arriving,
possibly from North Korea, Japan has to decide how
to preserve and maintain the coastal areas.
There are an increasing number of expectations for
the establishment of a system which will visualize
and share the local knowledge of each area by
utilizing a system like the SGP.

Lastly, environmental conservation comes into play.
I would like to give a brief introduction of the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are
currently being discussed and debated
internationally.

The SDGs were set by the United Nations in
September 2015, and goals related to sustainable
conservation and usage of the ocean and marine
resources were indicated as SDG14.
Global efforts are taking place towards the full
implementation of SDG14. The first United Nations
Ocean Conference was held at UN Headquarters in
June 2017, and discussions on marine environment
conservation have been progressing. In particular,
the importance of regional cooperation and
implementation of action plans based on technology
have been pointed out. In addition, with a proposal
from UNESCO in December 2017, the United Nations
designated the years 2021 to 2030 as the “Decade
of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.”
The importance of ocean science in marine
environment conservation is attracting attention,
and I can easily say that we are in a situation where
we must establish a community support system
like the SGP.


SDG14 Logo Image.PNG

Original Icons of Ocean SDGs (SDG 14)
(Source: Ocean White Paper 2018)
*Click to enlarge

Although this requires further study, looking at
recent movements, I believe that there is a need
to establish a science-based community support
system similar to the SGP. In Japan, there has
traditionally been an excellent network for the
purpose of promoting the fisheries, and it has
been functioning for a long time.

I would like to continue my study further by
considering working together with a great network
of prefectural marine experiment stations and fishery
colleges. The SGP of the United States created a
system in which innovations which were created to
solve issues in each community eventually created
new value, and I hope that in my next article I will
be able to introduce a system similar to that.

**Basic Policy on Preservation of Inhabited Remote
Islands on National Borders and Sustainability of
Local Communities on Special Inhabited Remote
Islands on National Borders (April 2017)

Note: This article was utilized research results from
the Japan Society of Ocean Policy’s Research Group
"Towards Revitalization of Coastal Regions by the
Use of the Ocean Policy Approach"
(October 2016 - September 2018)

Tomohiko Tsunoda

Senior Research Fellow
Ocean Policy Studies Division

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