Bluefin, bigeye tuna price gap returns

Published on
March 22, 2017

The price gap between bigeye and Pacific bluefin tuna had narrowed in Japan in late February, as some Chinese fishing boats that normally land catches in Nagasaki took their catches to China instead, to sell into the domestic market or for further processing and sale to Europe. But bigeye prices fell again in early March, as more boats returned to Japanese ports, boosting supplies.

Imported frozen bigeye sold on 1 March at an average of JPY 1,097 (USD 9.56, EUR 8.94) per kilogram, down from 1,207 (USD 10.52 , EUR 9.84) on 24 Feb., while imported frozen bluefin averaged JPY 3,154 (USD 27.49, EUR 21.71), virtually unchanged from late February.

Bluefin prices are being moderated by the large amount of farmed product now available, with even more planned for the future. Tokyo-based Maruha Nichiro is planning a closed-cycle farming operation off Amami Oshima, an island south of Kyushu, to begin operations in 2018.

In Japan, bigeye have largely substituted for bluefin in supermarket sales, so there is more pressure on the species. The Pew Charitable Trusts have identified excessive taking of juvenile bigeye on fish aggregating devices (FADs), often set for skipjack tuna, as a main problem. However, as governing bodies have been slow to eliminate fishing on FADs, bigeye populations will likely continue to decline.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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