Japan headed for lowest Pacific saury landings in 50 years

Japan’s nationwide saury catch through the end of October was just half that of last year. Pacific saury fishing ends this month, so the 2017 harvest will almost certainly be the worst since 1969. 

Total landings throughout Japan through October were 47,556 metric tons, according to a Nippon Keizai Shimbun report. Landings decreased by 40 percent in Hokkaido, the main production area, by 55 percent in Iwate Prefecture, and by 60 percent in Miyagi Prefecture. 

In addition to being scarce, the fish are leaner this year. Last year, fish averaged 150 grams each, while this year they range from 120 to 130 grams. 

The wholesale price in main production areas throughout the country is around JPY 350 (USD 3.12, EUR 2.66) per kilogram, 50 percent higher than in 2016. The wholesale price at the Tsukiji market in early November was around JPY 500 per kilogram (USD 4.46, EUR 3.80), 30 to 40 percent up from the same period of the previous year. Retail prices of fresh saury in Tokyo are at JPY 200 to 300 (USD 1.79 to 2.68, EUR 1.52 to 2.28) each.

In response to the high cost of raw materials, seafood giant Maruha Nichiro will raise the suggested retail price of its canned "Sanma kashiyaki (kabayaki)" from JPY 170 to JPY 220 (USD 1.52 to 1.96, EUR 1.28 to 1.66) – before eight percent sales tax –  in January of next year. Other makers are expected may follow. 

Saury is regularly identified by Japanese as the most iconic taste of the autumn season. Frozen saury usually retails at JPY 100 (USD 0.89, EUR 0.75) per fish and Japanese gas ranges have a special fish grill specifically sized for saury.


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