New Local Network Through Fostering Salmon ~Let’s Make the River of Our Hometown Clean~


The Watarase-gawa River running mostly through Gunma and Tochigi Prefectures is a first-class river of the Tone-gawa River system. There had been damages by mining pollution in the past due to the Ashiodozan Copper Mine located upstream of the river. There is still some possibilities that mineral poison could pour when heavy rain falls, however, many points of the river currently meet the water quality standards Type A or Type B that salmonid fish can live. And upstream migration of them can be observed.

In November, 2014, aiming at natural recovery of Watarase-gawa River, an activity named “Let’s Make the River of Our Hometown Clean” started. This is an activity conducted as a part of “Green Gift” project. It is a project that Japan NPO Center supports environmental NGOs. Besides donations from companies, Environmental Partnership Offices throughout the country support the project.


The system of “Green Gift” project is that when a customer chooses the way to view documents such as policy conditions on the website (Web Policy Conditions) at the time of contract with Tokio Marine & Nichido, the company will donate part of the reduction of paper usage to JAPAN NPO Center to conduct environmental conservation activities. It’s a project to create opportunities for children and their family members throughout the country to get involved with local environmental issues through participating in local environmental activities. It aims to gather 200 people to participate in at each 16 sites every year.

Along with Japan NPO Center, KANTO Environmental Partnership Office coordinates with the region and people involved.

The stakeholders of this time didn’t have direct relations before this activity. A new relationship was created through “Green Gift.” As a community network, it was the first time for Chaus-Nature Experience Outdoor School and Ryomo Fishing Cooperative to conduct a program together. Before this activity, they have participated in activities respectively. Through “Green Gift” program, a new network was formed in the region.

Operational Methods

“Green Gift” project is a program conducted throughout the country. The system of the program is that Environmental NPOs of each prefectural and city governments work mainly as partner organizations for cooperation. Chaus-Nature Experience Outdoor School plays an active role in the program in Gunma Prefecture. It is a private nature experience school which provides children with opportunities to experience outdoor experiences such as camps.

Chaus-Nature Experience Outdoor School directs the program; plans, manages and totally coordinates the activity. Since this time the theme is “Let’s Make the River of Our Hometown Clean,” Ryomo Fishing Cooperative, an inland water fishing cooperative, is assisting this activity. It provides technical know-how and network such as technical guidance, procurement of salmon eggs and coordination with the river administrator, etc. As a branch of the sponsor company, Gunma branch of Tokio Marine & Nichido participates in the program as a member. Employees and their family members participate in the program as volunteers. It also approaches related local schools and customers to participate in the program. It visit local schools to give lectures (such as lectures about planting mangroves). It mobilizes customers towards the program through agents of damage insurance. In this way, various actors of the region, who didn’t have relationships with one another in the past, unite together to conduct this program.

Implementation Status

They mainly conduct activities related to salmon conservation.

・The 1st event:on Sunday 9 November, 2014 Watching Salmon Upstream Migration Going Back Home and Trash Picking While Walking >>>Chaus-Nature Experience Outdoor School Activity Report Participants watched upstream migration of salmon. Near the Matsubara Bridge, the point where they watched salmon, became the point for salmon to spawn so that they were able to watch signs of fish during the event. Since most of the participants didn’t know that salmon live in the Watarase-gawa River, they were surprised to watch salmon. After watching salmon, they picked up trashes scattering on the river bank.

・The 2nd event:on Sunday 11 December, 2014 Salmon Eggs Distribution and Trash Picking While Walking Beside the River >>>Chaus-Nature Experience Outdoor School Activity Report Participants picked up trashes scattering on the river bank. After receiving a lecture about the way of managing eyed eggs (about 1 month after fertilization, eyes can be seen from outside) from members of fishing cooperative, eyed eggs were distributed to participants. Participants became foster parents to raise young salmon until they become big enough to be released into the river.

・The 3rd event:on Saturday 28 February, 2015 Releasing Young Salmon and Trash Picking While Walking >>>Chaus-Nature Experience Outdoor School Activity Report After picking up trashes scattering on the river bank, participants released young salmon which they raised by themselves into the river.

・The 4th event:on Sunday 21 June, 2015 Releasing Young Yamame (a Kind of Trout) and Trash Picking While Walking ※to be implemented >>>Chaus-Nature Experience Outdoor School Activity Information


Feedback from the family members participated in this program were as follows.

・“It’s not easy to raise fish,” said our children. The experiences made them eat fish with thanks in their daily lives, thinking about fish a lot. Nowadays, they eat fish saying, “We will enjoy every bite.” (a parent)
・Our children began to pick up trashes actively. They were taking care of salmon diligently. (a parent)
・It was a good opportunity to know the importance of living creature and nature. (a parent)

I myself, the reporter of this case, participated in this program and raised young salmon from eggs for about 2 months as a foster parent. Right after extrication, when young salmon still have nutritious bags in their stomachs, there is no need to feed them. After started feeding them, I changed water frequently since it got dirty with their droppings. Every day after I got home, I changed water late at night. I became attached to them because it took effort to take care of them. Although I had known how to grow fish to some extent in my head, I learned various things when I grew them in practice and there was a change in my thinking.

As an ingredient of lunchbox and rice balls, salmon is popular. Considering that it needs about 4 years for salmon to go through these enormous stages before harvest, I became to feel more grateful for food. Even when I eat a rice ball priced at about 100 yen at a convenience store, I really feel that I am ingesting other living creatures’ lives. By conducting this program, not only children but also adults who took care of salmon together learned and rediscovered points as follows:

・Awareness about biodiversity Most of participants didn’t know that salmon run up the Watarase-gawa River. They increase their awareness that the river is actually a bountiful thing even they are not especially aware of its existence in their daily lives. And they enhance their willingness to conserve the environment.

・Awareness about the formation of food When it comes to the procurement of food, most people are dependent on outside like buying what they eat from a supermarket. By growing fish also a kind of food, from eggs by themselves, they come to understand the process and notice what makes themselves alive. They rediscover the meaning of the words “Itadakimasu (Let’s eat),” as an expression of gratitude for the person who cooked the meal and for the food.

・Awareness about trash disposal By picking up trashes along the river, they get to know the scattering state of trashes such as plastic bottles and packing material. They enhance their willingness to reduce trashes and dispose them properly.

・Awareness about lives Sometimes salmon die of disease or die from the deterioration of the environment of the tank, such as water temperature and water quality. They rediscover the fact that “Once a living creatures dies, it never comes back to life.”

It is certain that there were more discoveries. The participants of this program must have rediscovered the nature of their hometown and increased awareness of willing to live together with nature while conserving natural environment.

“Green Gift” project programs by region are single-year programs as a general rule. Even so, since all the people involved in this program including participants have a good response, Chaus-Nature Experience Outdoor School thinks that they want to continue cooperating with “Green Gift” project stakeholders. We would like to look forward to future development.


・Project cooperation/project accord


・Biodiversity/ nature conservation ・Social business/CSR

People involved (Actor and Partners)

・Chaus-Nature Experience Outdoor School ・Japan NPO Center ・Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. ・Ryomo Fishing Cooperative

Reported by Hirotaka Ito (KANTO Environmental Partnership Office) February, 2015