Exclusive pricing report for Japan’s fishery

Published on
June 8, 2016

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has submitted its annual White Paper on Fisheries to the legislature for approval. The report that has not yet been released in English, but SeafoodSource has been able to obtain a copy of the White Paper, which provides an insightful glimpse into the Japanese fishery’s statistical data from 2014 through 2015.

Landings of Japanese sardines fell from over 200,000 metric tons in 2005 to just above 50,000 metric tons in 2015. In response, prices have risen inversely from about JPY 50 (USD 0.47, EUR 0.41) per kg, to JPY 200 (USD 1.87, EUR 1.65) per kg at present.

Mackerel, in contrast, has been fairly steady in the long term with catches between 2007 and 2015 ranging from 400,000 to 500,000 MT. Prices reached a high of about JPY 110 (USD 1.03, EUR 0.91) per kg in 2013, but have since declined, to 80 yen (USD 0.75, EUR 0.66) per kg in 2015.

Squid catches have been on a rising trend, from around 150,000 MT in 2009 to a high of 250,000 MT in 2015. Prices have been flat recently at approximately JPY 200 (USD 1.87, EUR 1.65) per kg.

Last year was a good one for Pacific saury; nearly 400,000 metric tons were landed, about double that of 2014.

Pacific greenling prices have declined steadily from 2008 to 2014, from about JPY 250 (USD 2.34, EUR 2.06) per kg to just JPY 50 (USD 0.47, EUR 0.41) per kg in 2014.

Horse mackerel has been steady with landings about 200,000 metric tons and prices fairly flat, also around JPY 125 (USD 1.17, EUR 1.03) per kg.

Over the last 10 years, the price of fuel has been affected by increased demand from developing countries, supply from the Middle East, and the shale gas and oil boom in the United States, as well as changes in currency exchange rates. Fuel costs represent about 20 percent of operating costs for a fishing vessel. After peaking in 2008, prices sharply fell in 2009, then gradually climbed again. With the appreciation of the yen, combined price cuts by suppliers to compete with shale oil, prices of heavy oil and crude oil were at JPY 56 (USD 0.52, EUR 0.46) and JPY 25 (USD 0.23, EUR 0.21) per liter, respectively, in March of this year.

Based on information from vessel permits, the Japan’s fleet continues to age, with median age now at 23 years. Vessels over 20 years old make up 56.5 percent of the total, while those over 30 years old make up 17.5 percent.

In aquaculture requiring feeding, feed accounts for 60 to 70 percent of operation costs. In recent years demand increased for fish farming in China. Additionally, Peru, which accounts for a quarter of the world’s fishmeal production, suffered an El Nino, which greatly reduced anchovy catches. The 2015 price for fishmeal was over JPY 200,000 (USD 1,870, EUR 1,653) per MT, but has since declined, to JPY 173,408 (USD 1,624, EUR 1,433) per MT in February 2016.

The Japanese government implements “safety net” subsidy programs when either fuel prices or mixed feed prices rise more than a certain amount.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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