Western Japan cluster: Seto inland sea as Satoumi

The Seto Inland Sea is the largest enclosed sea area in Japan. Approximately 30 million people live in the coastal area of the Seto Inland Sea, including the river watershed areas of the river basins that flow into the Seto Inland Sea. For this reason, the area supports active industrial activities, and therefore, is susceptible to human behaviour. The ecosystem services and landscapes provided by Seto Inland Sea as satoumi have been shaped by the long-standing interaction between human activities and the coastal waters. Being reflective of regional characteristics and the historical background, satoumi may take a variety of shapes. However, the straightforward definition of satoumi in Seto Inland Sea is “coastal waters where human influence has increased both biological productivity and diversity”. In other words satoumi is a “bountiful coastal area shaped by the coexistence between humans and nature”. However, the bountiful satoumi of the Seto Inland Sea, maintained for a long time during a time when the influence of human activity on the marine environment and resources was relatively small, changed dramatically in the high economic growth period after World War II. The result was environmental degradation due to pollution and the disappearance of neritic areas due to land reclamation. These were accompanied by the deterioration of ecosystems and decrease in marine resource levels. For this reason, the word satoumi is morphing in meaning from what it was initially, “the state that was”, to a word indicating “a target for a lost environment to be restored” or “an ideal relationship between people and sea to be newly forged”. This is the reason the term satoumi is used in phrases such as “the creation of new satoumi”.

Related Subject(s): Environment and Climate Change
Countries: Japan
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