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Fisheries Agency Toughens Control of Korean Fishing Boats

October 27, 2008

The Fisheries Agency will strengthen the patrol system to crack down on illegal fishing activities by Korean fishing boats in Japan’s EEZ adjacent to provisional water of the Japan Sea, from November 2008 thru May 2009; the period when Korean fishing operations become active. The more rigorous control system includes fisheries inspection vessels and air patrol flights.

Korean fishing boats, equipped with such fish poaching methods as gill nets and crab pots, have increased sophistication of unsanctioned activities; fishing equipment without buoys are used to escape detection by patrol boats and conversion of radar masts higher than normal, helps spot patrol vessels.

Starting in November, illegitimate snow crab fishing becomes rampant. Not only Korean fishing boats gill a large amount of snow crab, but also recurring incidents where poaching equipment of Korean fishing boats get tangled up with fishing nets of Japanese trawlers, happen every year.

Taking these issues into consideration, the Fisheries Agency has designated seven months beginning in November as a high priority monitoring period. The agency will deploy as many as 12 patrol boats and reinforce air patrol. It intends to prevent installation of illegal fishing gears and confiscate them upon discovery. Additionally, it is ready to seize Korean poaching vessels.

The number of cases of impounding illegal fishing equipment at the Sanriku offing was 34 cases in 2005, 29 in 2006, and 30 in 2007. There have been 19 cases so far this year.

The original article was published on October 27, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Surimi Industry Faces Impact of Global Economic Downturn

October 23, 2008

The Japanese surimi industry had to deal with higher prices for surimi during the B-Season in North America; up \100 higher than the A-Season. The situation surrounding surimi has been changing due to various factors: increasing surimi stock in South East Asia and India; India’s larger harvest of raw materials in August; lower value of Korean won after the global financial slump, leading to the cessation of surimi procurement from Vietnam due to shortages in foreign currencies.

Vietnamese surimi, however, does not meet the quality standard that Japanese surimi product manufacturers ask for, causing some difficulties outside of cost issues.

The monopolizing trend of the North American surimi industry in the B-Season arising from mergers and/or acquisitions of companies from last year until this year contributed to the seller’s market trend. Two of the American providers have inundated the surimi market.

Based on a reduction of this year’s pollack quota, unchanging high demand of filets in the European markets, and the high fuel costs, the American producer side insisted on a \100 increase, brushing off requests from Japanese dealers.

Slump in Consumption in the European Filet Market

The collapse of subprime loans and the resulting world economic crisis has caused drastic shifts in market conditions. The high filet prices determined in contract base negotiations have resulted in a sales downswing and overstocks.

Despite the American producers’ demand that European buyers purchase whole contracted amounts, a tumble in consumption and resultant tight cash-flow have prompted European buyers to request the allocation of a portion of the contracted amount for the A-Season next year.

There has been an obvious structural change in the European filet market. Japanese fish paste manufacturers planned to get by with stock on hand by October and look toward the B-Season for the rest of the year’s supply; however, a 20 percent price rise this Spring led to slower consumption with a resultant prolonged life of the raw material stock until the end of the year.

The Japanese surimi manufactures are becoming reluctant to procure the B-Season surimi, and therefore it is remaining uncertain how much of the high-priced B-Season surimi will have been purchased.

American Producers Keeping Tough Stance

The American producers have kept a tough stance on the surimi and filet prices, reasoning that, despite recent crude oil price drops, they need to determine how far this plummet will advance and keep an eye on the next year’s A-Season pollack quota determined early December ? there is speculation that the quota might be reduced by 14 percent.

Southern Surimi with Quality Issues

Overproduction of surimi as a result of a favorable quantity of the catch in India ended in lower surimi price offers. However, Indian producers say the current prices are temporary due to a recent lower harvest amount.

Additionally, the recent trend of rising surimi prices is fostering new constructions of surimi plants in Vietnam. Since Vietnam has produced surimi mainly for the Korean market, the surimi quality, such as color, smell, parts, and moisture fails to meet the Japanese standard. Subsequently, the different quality standards have led to some problems, since surimi shortages encouraged Japan’s sudden surimi imports from Vietnam. For the first half year, the surimi import amount from Vietnam doubled to 30,000 tons.

The world financial crisis has generated a tumble in value of Korean won, which consequently has created shortages in foreign currencies, resulting in the halt of surimi imports from Vietnam.

According to some surimi dealer, “The Vietnamese surimi industry heavily relies on low grade products made for the Korean market, and therefore if Korea stops business with Vietnam, surimi plants in Vietnam won’t be able to operate. As a result, Vietnam will partially discontinue surimi production for the Japanese market, compounding the problem for the Japanese market. With the uncertainty of American surimi production due to reductions in fishing quotas, just like the circumstances surrounding Southern surimi, surimi production in the US will keep facing volatility. Japan will continuously have to deal with problems that we won’t be able to secure such high grade surimi as SA, FA from the US as well as good quality product from South East Asia.”

The original article was published on October 23, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Saury Harvest up to Mid October Totals 180,000 Tons, Reaming Same as Last Year

October 23, 2008

According to the Saury statistics, the total Saury harvest volume as of October 20, 2008, was 180,263 tons, two percent higher than the same period of the previous year. The average unit price was \924 per 10 kg, indicating a seven percent increase.

The Hokkaido district with the main ports, such as Hanasaki, Akkeshi, and Kushiro, registered a total catch volume of 104,442 tons, displaying a similar amount to last year. The unit price in the district marked a 21 percent hike.

The catch volume of Iwate and Chiba Prefectures exhibited increases of 11 percent and 22 percent respectively. Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures showed a more than 10 percent decline in the unit price.

The original article was published on October 23, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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