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Overseas Ranched Tuna May Cause Destruction of Domestic Market

March 23, 2009

According to a wholesaler in the Tsukiji Market, prices of overseas ranched tuna, mainly the Mediterranean tuna, are yet to be determined since last year; price stagnation has been taking place, evidenced by consignment sales. The costs of ranching tuna at the time of skyrocketing fuel expenses prior to September 2008 does not meet the current Japanese market rates, ending in unsuccessful negotiations. Consequently, the structure of supply and demand is expected to change considerably.

The purchasing price of the Mediterranean tuna ranched before September 2008 was \2,800. Compared to a price range of \2,300 - \2,600 in 2007, rising fuel costs created price hikes. Though local tuna ranchers were asking for about \4,000, which included feed, labor, and other costs, the current tumbling market prices prompted Japanese buyers to insist on a price of \3,000 or less. Consequently, the prices have been yet to be decided.

A fishing quota of bluefin tuna allocated to the Mediterranean for this year by the ICCAT came to 22,000 tons. The fishing period is set to be from April 15 through June 15. Tuna will come to spawn at the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean late June; therefore it is highly possible that catch may not reach a fishing quota, resulting in around 15,000 tons or so.

Australian ranched tuna secures a fishing quota of 8,000 tons each year; however, mass retailers are reluctant to carry Australian tuna owing to some quality issues, such as quick color change. Currently, izakaya (Japanese style restaurant bar) chain restaurants mostly sell the fish. Its regular market price is about \1,800. With the end of the fiscal year approaching, higher grade tuna was sold for \1,300. Concerning Mexican tuna, after Japanese purchasers' departure, local traders continue to sell on a consignment basis.

In contrast, Japanese ranched tuna is performing remarkably well. At present, a domestic production amount is 6,000 to 8,000 tons and the fish is directly sold to mass retailers. Mirroring a growing preference of safe domestic products, domestic tuna manages to retain a high rate of around \3,000.

The original article was published on March 23, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

87 Tuna Longliners Reduced

March 23, 2009

The Fisheries Agency is slated to reduce 87 tuna longliners; 64 offshore tuna longliners (49 ships from the Federation of Japan Skipjack and Tuna Fisheries Cooperatives; 11 from the National Federation of fisheries Cooperatives; and 4 from the Federation of Japan Inshore Skipjack and Tuna Fisheries Cooperatives), and 23 inshore tuna longliners (all from the Federation of Japan Inshore Skipjack and Tuna Fisheries Cooperatives) will be removed. The fishermen who will lose their ships will be provided a financial aid "disposal costs of unused fishing boats," to compensate losses and disposal expenses.

The reduction of tuna longliners will be carried out in response to the international fisheries restructure resolutions to tighten regulations of tuna species, which entailed a 30 percent decrease in Atlantic bluefin tuna catch by the ICCAT (The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) last November, and another 30 percent reduction in big-eyed tuna catch by the WCPFC (The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission) last December.

The original article was published on March 23, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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