The beginning of 100 years of Fishery and Fisheries Sciences

YASUI Hajime,Dean, Faculty of Fisheries, Hokkaido University.
YASUI Hajime,Dean,
Faculty of Fisheries, Hokkaido University.

Since Hokkaido University was founded as Sapporo Agricultural College in 1876, it has cultivated the fundamental principles of “Pioneer spirit”, “Developing a global perspective”, “All-round education”, and “Valuing of practical learning”, and in an open environment free from old conventions in the harsh climate of northern Japan, it has developed as the only mainstay comprehensive university in Hokkaido that fosters a spirit of independence, progressive generosity, and originality. It is said that fishery-science education in Japan began in1880 when Dr. John C. Cutter, a visiting teacher, lectured at the college about aquatic animals.

It is possible to trace the beginnings of fishery science in Japan back to some of the first graduates of the college, including Kazutaka Itou, a member of the first graduating class who opened a salmon hatchery at Chitose, Kingo Miyabe, a member of the second graduating class who had a great knowledge of kelps, and Kanzou Uchimura, a member of the second graduating class who gave a graduation speech titled “Fisheries are also a science”. The School of Fishery was formally created from the Sapporo Agricultural College in 1907.

Last year, we celebrated our school’s 100th anniversary. Since our school was established, we have graduated about 14,700 talented people, who have taken an active part in a wide variety of fields in society.

A university that focuses on its graduate school

In 2000, our teachers were transferred to the graduate school to create a unique, research-spearheading type of graduate-school university. And after the university became a National University Corporation in 2004, a vanguard plan for the faculties of Hokkaido University was realized in April 2005 that established the current education-research system that comprises the Faculty of Fisheries Sciences (research), the Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences (graduate education) and the School of Fisheries Sciences (undergraduate education). In addition, from April 2006, the School of Fisheries Sciences was reorganized and shifted to four new subjects.

Thus, we have actively promoted reorganization and reformation of the graduate school to meet the education and research needs of society while advancing internationalization.

Formation of a base for education and research, and contribution to society

In July 2004, a research proposal from the Faculty of Fisheries Sciences entitled “Marine Bio-manipulation Frontier for Food Production” was awarded funding by the 21st century COE Program (innovative science field) to establish a world-class research and education base. Moreover, department agreements have been concluded with 16 universities and 1 research organization in 9 countries, and every year, many international students come to study at our school, while many of our students go abroad to study.

Hereafter, energy will be devoted to further educational research and to fulfill our academic and scientific duty to train talented people in science and technology to make international contributions.

The Faculty of Fisheries Science is now helping revitalize industries in the Hakodate area as part of a cooperative plan among industry, government, and academia. Hakodate has been specified as a designated structural reform district in the “Marine Frontier Science and Technology Research Special District” (cabinet office), and as a noteworthy science and research base city in the “Formation of a Science and Research Base City Concerning Ocean and Fishery Promotion in the International Fishery and Ocean City Hakodate” regional rebirth plan (cabinet office) and in the “Project to Promote Industry-Academia-Government Cooperation in the Metropolitan Area (Hakodate area)” (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology).

By accumulating this science and research, the uniting of the university with local society and creation of a superb intellectual education environment expands science, and at the same time the cooperation among industry, government, and academia will cause a concentration of related industries and is expected to contribute to new industry development, so the social meaning and effects will be immeasurable.

The next century

Science and technology advanced explosively in the 20th century. Mankind has undeniably benefited from these advances, but we now have many complex and difficult problems that need to be solved. They include the increase in social unrest caused by global warming, resource and energy problems and conflicts concerning civilizations, religions, and ethics. In addition, new threats to human health and life have also arisen. It is thought that these problems generally originated in the limited Earth on which we live. That is to say, it is thought the result of humans continually applying loads that exceed the recovery power of the global environment and of finite resources. Then how should we realize sustainable development on this limited planet?

Based on this recommendation, we think that a fishery science that is responsible to the society of the future is needed. That is to say, it is clear that fishery science that supports food production is important, but a new 21st-century fishery science is needed that will contribute to global sustainability. We thereafter will help advance “Sustainability Fishery Science” to address these issues. Our aim is to develop this science while valuing our past traditions.