Fishing and boating attract more enthusiasts in a pandemic-h …

Fishing and boating attract more enthusiasts in a pandemic-h …


Yuki Muraoka has noticed an increase in the number of recreational anglers visiting his favorite fishing spots in Tokyo over the past year. Whether alone or with a family, people equipped with rods and reels gather at popular spots along the river that flows through the city, such as the canals that flow into Tokyo Bay, Sumida, and Arakawa.

“Some bridge stakes attract more than 12 fishermen at a time,” says a sculptor who started fishing eight years ago. “If you walk along the river even at night, you will meet anglers. I also met beginners on their first fishing expedition.”

Mr. Muraoka has largely avoided long-distance travel under the stay-at-home order, but says there are still many fishing spots in the city.

“Next month, I’m going out on a boat to catch the sea bream in Tokyo Bay,” he says.

More people in Japan are seduced by fishing and boating as the social distance and mental health benefits of outdoor activities appeal to those looking for fresh air during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Akio Sudo, the director of the facility, said that the number of visitors to the sea fishing park “Original Maker Umizuri Park” in the coastal city of Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture, increased by about 10% compared to the average year. The park has a wharf with guardrails underwater, as well as restaurants and shops that sell or rent fishing equipment.

“We are mostly elderly on weekdays and have many families with children on weekends. Catch during this time of the year includes gizzards, black seabream and sea bass,” he says.

“We expect a lot of people to come together during Golden Week,” said Sudo, referring to the holidays in late April and early May.

Sales of fishing gear are also strong. According to the financial results report of Shimano, a leading manufacturer of bicycle parts and fishing equipment, sales in FY2020 increased 4.1% year-on-year to 378 billion yen. Driven by interest in outdoor leisure activities during the pandemic, 2021 sales are projected to increase by 20.5%.

According to Marketandresearch.biz, the global market for recreational fishing equipment is on the rise, projected to reach $ 14.95 billion by 2025 from $ 13.17 billion in 2019. It will be $ 35 billion in 2020, and that figure is projected to reach $ 45.9 billion by 2027.

“In 2020, the number of people who obtain a ship license has increased rapidly,” said Masao Fujii, director of the Japan Marine Business Association Promotion Office. According to data from the National Recreation Association of Japan, this figure reached 69,000 for the first time in 15 years and reached 58,000 in 2019.

“People trapped in their homes seem to use their leisure time to seek a boat license,” he says.

Yamaha Motor’s AX220 is one of the company’s latest pleasure boat models. | Provided by Yamaha Motor

The number of boat club members also reached a record high of 4,800 in 2020. In addition, sales of new vessels in 2020 decreased by only 12,000 from 13,000 in the previous year due to a shortage of vessels, but the used boat market increased by 7% in 2020 to 95,000. According to the Japan Craft Inspection Organization.

“We were very surprised at these numbers as we were prepared for the blow. In the future, we would like to develop new boat fans not only for individuals and small groups, but also for large parties.” Mr. Fujii. Meanwhile, the Japan International Boat Show, the largest exhibition on the Japanese marine industry calendar, is scheduled to open on Thursday.

Yamaha Motor, a manufacturer of motorcycles, boats and outboard motors, will exhibit a booth at its annual event. A spokeswoman for the company, Takumi Nomoto, said that interest in marine leisure activities is growing as people seek great outdoors to avoid crowded and closed spaces.

Sales of the company’s maritime business fell from 350.1 billion yen in 2019 to 328.3 billion yen last year, but were lower than expected, Nomoto said. The second half of the year. This year’s sales are expected to return to 364 billion yen.

“There is also strong demand for recreational fishing and boating in the United States and other European and other developed countries,” says Nomoto.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association, a leading industry association representing manufacturers of boats, marine engines and accessories in the United States, has sold boats as more Americans have taken them to the water to escape the stress of pandemics. High said it reached a record high of 13 years last year.

“International air travel restrictions seem to be driving the trend,” says Nomoto.

Katsumasa Taniguchi, owner of Marine Stage, a diving shop in Wakayama Prefecture, says that a large group of divers who could not go to overseas diving sites have visited his facility in the past year. “Many people have become repeaters.”

In addition, the number of visitors decreased due to the state of emergency targeting 10 prefectures including Tokyo, but the number of reservations for Golden Week holidays is increasing. “I think this summer will be very busy unless the virus triggers new travel restrictions.”

Kazuhito Inoue, a Tokyo-based art dealer who frequently visits the sea around Mikomoto Island, a rocky uninhabited island on the south coast of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture, says diving is a perfect pandemic sport. “Diving in the ocean is the ultimate social distance activity.”

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