Saury prices down in Japan as late season catch improves

Japan's early saury season, centered in Hokkaido and northeast Honshu, was disappointing, but the fishing has improved in the latter part of the season.

Due to the saury schools remaining northeast of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, in international waters, Taiwanese and Chinese fleets got first crack at them, and prices reached 60 percent above normal.

Normal for a retail saury at the peak of the season is about 100 yen per fish. A medium-sized raw Pacific saury weighs around 130 grams, so this works out to about 76 yen per 100 grams, or JPY 760 (USD 71.90, EUR 64.60) per kg.

The late arrival has become a frequent phenomenon, and the changing migration patterns may be in response to climate change. Typhoons in August also kept ship in port at times. In August, the saury landings at Nemuro, Kushiro and Akkeshi ports totaled 4,300 metric tons, but catches in September reached 23,000 MT.

In mid-September, sales promotions were held to move the increasing catches. For example, at Tokyo Tower, on 22 September, free grilled saury from Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture were served to the first 3,333 people to arrive.

Saury, or “sanma” in Japanese, is the most iconic autumn food of Japan, along with the matsutake mushroom. It is sold fresh and frozen, to be cooked whole with guts in, which adds a slightly bitter taste, even though the guts are not eaten. Dried salted fish are gutted and butterflied.


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