An effort at seabird protection and sustainable usage of a marine area (the Utoro marine area of Shiretoko Peninsula – Hokkaido, Japan)


The “Spectacled uillemot (Cepphus carbo)” seabird, a rare and endangered species (denoted as “Vulnerable {VU}” on the ‘red list’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)), inhabits only the Far East, but can be found close by in the Utoro marine area.

The Ministry of the Environment organized an investigative commission, entitled “Examining seabird protection and sustainable usage of a marine area in the Shiretoko National Park – Utoro Marine Area”, as a 3-year project running through the fiscal years 2010-2012. The investigative commission convened meetings biannually. Besides its investigation of trends in usage, the commission also: generated PR for the effort through local cooperation in the use of decoys; compiled records of seabird observations with the assistance of operators of tourist boats; shared information about investigation results via experts; etc. Thereby, with “protection of the Spectacled Guillemot” s a symbol-theme, the commission could establish cooperative relationships with people from various areas who were involved with the marine area.

With the objectives of gaining recognition of the Spectacled Guillemot as a symbol for environmental conservation, and also as a tourism-promotion resource, a mechanism was established so that actors could readily recognize how their protecting endangered species might also be directly beneficial for themselves, resulting in a Win-Win relationship. It branded this mechanism with the tag “Shiretoko style”, and worked at getting it well-established. In the fiscal year 2013, the event “Seabird WEEK” was hosted, experts made special visits to teach courses, cruises and photo exhibitions were organized, etc. While events and educational opportunities are arranged, education with an eye towards dissemination of the program is taking place vis-à-vis not only tourists, but also local residents.

Points about the partnership

  • The Shiretoko Utoro Marine Environment Conservation Council is at the center of activities, and efforts are being made to get local stakeholders involved. Also, collaboration with researchers is moving forward, in order to provide feedback based on scientific data.
  • Was able to obtain the understanding of the actors involved, and now an explanation about the Spectacled Guillemot is given on tourist boats.


Project cooperation/project accord, Executive committee/council,


Biodiversity/nature conservation, cotourism


Shiretoko Utoro Marine Environment Conservation Council


Researchers, fisheries cooperatives, the Ministry of the Environment, operators of tourist boats, local community associations, other organizations and tourism agencies, EPO Hokkaido


Spectacled Guillemot / Shiretoko Data Center