ZEF Researchers to Blog about Trip to Japan

Photo: Max Voit

June 20, 2023.  

International exchange and field research geared toward saving seagrass beds and promoting sustainable fishing

Ten doctoral students from the Center for Development Research (ZEF) of the University of Bonn have embarked on a research trip to the Japanese capital Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. They will be tackling some urgent questions relating to the marine environment, agriculture and resource management at the University of Tokyo over the next eight days. The group has a decidedly international makeup, with the doctoral students from the ZEF hailing from Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, India, Namibia, Nigeria, Sweden, the Philippines, Tanzania and the US. They will be writing a blog about their journey and their research activities in the field, which they will be carrying out together with a group of ten researchers from the University of Tokyo and its International Program in Agricultural Development Studies (IPADS).

Among other things, the researchers from the University of Bonn will be blogging about their fieldwork, which will concentrate on two areas in particular: the restoration of seagrass beds and the sustainable management of common pool resources.

The decline or depletion of seagrass beds is a serious problem in coastal regions around Japan and across the world. The soil is being made infertile by higher seawater temperatures caused by global heating, grazing by sea urchins and fish, and a lack of nutrients on the land. The research unit that is hosting them in Japan is focusing on iron deficiency and has already developed a method for restoring seagrass beds using iron fertilizer. The doctoral students from Bonn will be visiting the first place where this method is being implemented - Mashike in northwestern Hokkaido - and observing the relationship between rice fields and the coastal environment. They will also conduct interviews with representatives of fishing cooperatives and local government.

Fishing is considered to be one of the typical cases of common pool resources that often lead to the phenomenon known as the “tragedy of the commons.” In the past, the introduction of ownership rights has frequently been discussed as the only viable solution for preventing this tragedy. However, Japan has a strong tradition of co-management or community-based management of natural common pool resources. During their time in Japan, the researchers from the University of Bonn will be finding out about the role of institutions and the rules and standards introduced by the Fisheries Cooperative Association to ensure sustainable fishing.

You can read the blog here: https://blog.zef.de/

A close partnership with Japan

The University of Bonn and the University of Tokyo (UTokyo) have collaborated on a range of topics for many years now. UTokyo is also the ZEF’s main partner in Japan. Since 2016, the ZEF and UTokyo have been actively engaged in teacher and student exchanges and in organizing joint trips, most notably in cooperation with the International Program in Agricultural Development Studies (IPADS) at UTokyo.

The partnership was expanded in 2022 when UTokyo’s Graduate Program in Sustainability Science-Global Leadership Initiative (GPSS-GLI) was added to the exchange program, in which some 20 students from the ZEF have already taken part.

Keep checking back to learn more about what the participants have been doing. With its combination of lectures, fieldwork, participatory observation and interviews, the program is designed to give students a comprehensive understanding of the complex links between agriculture, the marine environment and the management of common resources.

About the University of Tokyo

The University of Tokyo (UTokyo) was established in the Japanese capital in 1877. Nearly 29,000 students, 15 percent of whom come from abroad, are enrolled across all its degree programs. It has 10 faculties and 15 graduate schools, including the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, with which the ZEF is collaborating more closely.

Press Release by University of Bonn


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