This study aimed at developing the characteristics of pre-modern distribution of fish and fishery in Lake Biwa.
In pre-modern times, people had different sense of utility value about fish from ours. Actually, they invested fish with political meaning. Fishermen in Lake Biwa presented fish -sweetfish in ancient times, carp in medieval, and crucian in Edo era -to powers in Kyoto or Edo. It was their obligation to get these important fish.
During Edo period Crucian also had a high popularity among Kyoto consumers. Fishermen in Katata had the special fishing rights to get it all over the lake and offerd it to powers and consumers. They stopped desperately all new offshore fishing to maintain their rights. As a result, they could keep the rule of fishing in Lake Biwa.
This paper analyzed the regional development of the supply of ayu fry caught in Lake Biwa and ayu culture industry in Shiga Prefecture. Ayu fry became supplied for the whole country by the Shiga Prefectural authorities after 1930. The industry in Shiga was started by local fisherman who served as distributor in the latter half of the 1930s, and rapidly developed during the high economic growth period in Japan. However, since the oil crisis in the 1970s, the industry was forced to reduce production costs. Ayu culture in Shiga thus declined by the high production cost due to inferior water conditions. Recently, Shiga’s ayu fry lost its market share because of the spread of bacterial coldwater disease.
This paper aims to clarify the characteristics of food system on freshwater fish and shellfish from Lake Biwa (called “Kogyo”). Therefore, the author researched into present conditions of fishing, distribution, processing, and consumption of them in Shiga Prefecture.
In Lake Biwa, the quantities of fish caught have been decreased since 1990. Except for Ko-ayu (small ayu), the catches of fish in demand for processing are poor, such as crucian carp, goby, minnow, shrimp and shijimi clam. Then, the products of inland aquaculture, mainly ayu farming, are half of 1980’s.
Among the distribution, many of the fresh fish and shell are processed and consumed in Shiga Prefecture. In addition, there are two distribution routes to other regions of fishery products. One is the shipment of ayu fry for stocking or farming, another is aflow of the high-valued fish (Ko-ayu, minnows and so on) to Kyoto city.
The firms located near fishing ports process fish and shellfish in Shiga Prefecture. They generally combine retailing, wholesaling, processing, and inland culturing, mainly product tsukudani, preserved food boiled down in soy sauce, and Funa-zushi, pickled crucian carp.
In Shiga Prefecture, freshwater fish and shellfish from Lake Biwa are common foods, but the market is reduced by the decline of fishing industry in Lake Biwa and the fall of demand for fish. Therefore, local government started a campaign (called “Oi-shiga Ure-shiga Campaign”) to promote the local production for local consumption of foods in 2008.
In conclusion, the food system of freshwater fish and shellfish in Shiga Prefecture has consisted of the fishery resources in Lake Biwa, local demand, and regional industries that have connected them, such as wholesaling, retailing and processing of Kogyo. However, the changes of “Fishery Environment” are affecting its balance. We should watch future trends.
The environmental problem of Lake Biwa attracted attention from the latter half of the rapid economic growth period. The fisherman who watched the history of Lake Biwa and a daily change should be paid more attention in thinking about the environment of Lake Biwa.
The fish catches in Lake Biwa show a tendency to decrease. When an environmental problem attracted attention greatly, the fishery was relatively calm decrease.
The change of Lake Biwa understands in according to a fishing port. The life of the lakefront became convenient as a result. There was the effect for the securing of aquatic resources for irrigation. However, it is necessary to examine influence on fishery closely.