Japanese autumn skipjack landings down 40 percent

Published on
December 11, 2017

Skipjack tuna landings in Japan from September through November totaled 1,207 metric tons, 40 percent lower than in 2016, according to a Nippon Keizai Shimbun report. It was also 30 percent less than the average of the past five years. However, it is similar to the amount of 2015, and only a little below that of 2014.

The average wholesale price at Tokyo’s Tsukiji market in October and November was around JPY 1,000 (USD 8.81, EUR 7.50) per kilogram, 15 percent higher than the previous year. Bigeye tuna, another red-meat tuna, was also in short supply. Frozen bigeye at Tsukiji was around 20 to 30 percent higher than the five-year average during the period, averaging JPY 1200 (USD 10.57, EUR 9.01) per kilogram. As a result, tuna is featured less in supermarkets, replaced in sashimi sets with farmed salmon.

Part of the reason for lower catch totals is reduced effort in November. Fishermen along the Sanriku coast (the northeast of Honshu Island) found the schools too far from port, and the sizes too small to justify fuel expenses. Skipjack tuna taken in their early summer migration as they move north are lean, while tuna returning in the fall are typically fatty and weigh around three to four kilograms. However, this year, the fall skipjack are also lean, with weights of 0.7 to 1.3 kilograms most common. 

Increased catches of skipjack in tropical areas of the Western and Central Pacific are considered as a possible cause of Japan’s reduced catch.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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