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METRO Cash & Carry Japan Opens Sixth Store in Japan

October 23, 2009

METRO Cash & Carry Japan (President Takatsugu Ishida), which runs merchandize marts for registered clients with a food business license, opened its sixth store “METRO Yokohama-Izumi Store” on Oct 22.

The store, like its other stores, is 3,000 square meters in size. There are 12,500 items, 95 percent of which are foodstuff. Fresh foodstuff accounts for 60 percent of the foods products. Hotels, restaurants, catering businesses, and foods retailers are the target client group.

The fresh produce section uses reach-in cases for space efficiency. When the first store opened in 2002, there were only 20 tuna products; now the number has increased to 70 to meet clients’ needs. In response to a request to enhance freshness of tuna merchandizes by customers, every single store had ultra cold freezers for tuna installed. There are 80 shrimp products abundantly displayed; shrimp is mainly from Indonesia and Vietnam. Fresh fish is procured at Tsukiji Market or through wholesalers at the market; President Ishida thinks, “If there is a good product, we will consider using other markets.”

Winter clothes are kept handy at stores, since the store temperature is set low.

Store hours are 6am to 7pm. They stay open 24/7 all throughout the year, except for the New Year’s Day. Customers are limited only to businesses with a business license issued by the Health Department.

The company hopes to expand its business within the Tokyo metropolitan area and is planning to open a store with a novel, metropolitan style, different from a conventional one, sometime next year.

Figure 1: Freshness of tuna is kept in the ultra cold freezer.

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

Taiyo A&F’s Large Far Seas Purse Seiner Has Grand Launching Ceremony

October 22, 2009

There was a grand launching ceremony of a large far seas purse seiner “The Daini Fuji-Maru” (The Second Fuji-Maru), 760 tons, which had been under construction at Miho Zosen in Shizuoka Pref. for Taiyo A&F (Toyomi, Tokyo; President Hironobu Imamura), at the shipbuilding yard on Oct. 20. Other than President Imamura, Maruha Nichiro Holdings President Yuji Igarashi, Tomofumi Kume, Executive Managing Director of the Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation of Japan, and Kazuo Shima, Chairman of the Japan Far Seas Purse Seine Fishing Association, and others attended the ceremony. After religious rituals, President Igarashi cut a rope and the new vessel slowly found its way to the Pacific Ocean, facing over Mr. Fuji, in the shower of blossoms. After outfitting, the ship will be complete next January.

Aiming for Modernization of Large Purse Seiner and Fisheries Recovery

The 79.61-meter-long Daini Fuji-Maru has a capacity to load a helicopter for fish search. For a refrigeration unit, each of brine freezing system 65t/20hrs and 50t/20hrs, as well as PS system 17.5t/8hrs and 12t/8hrs will be installed. The cutting edge fishing gears, equipment, and propulsion devices are prepared for international competition.

At a party held after the ceremony, President Imamura, a ship owner himself, expressed his joy and spoke of the current affair of overseas purse seine fishing: “Thanks to efforts of people involved in the construction of the ship, the Dani Fuji-Maru could have a launching ceremony today. Southern fishing grounds where fishing countries from all over the world operate in disarray are having high waves. Securing fishing grounds in the South for a long term and constructing new ships fitted with international competitiveness are national matters requiring urgent solutions; and we need to accelerate the process of a set-up of the Southern Pacific Fishing Grounds Securement Organization (tentative name), which we have been recommending.” President Igarashi also said, “We are expecting the successes of the Daini Fuji-Maru in hopes of the modernization of large purse seiners and fisheries recovery.”

Figure 1: From left, Miho Zosen Chairman Kijima, Maruha Nichiro President Igarashi, Taiyo A&F President Imamura, and Miho Zosen President Misawa

The original article was published on October 22, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Fisheries Agency Releases Biomass Evaluation by Fish Species, Part 2: Pollack

October 22, 2009

The Fisheries Agency held a conference on the national biomass review on Oct 7th through 8th and released the Biomass Evaluation by Fish Species: Digest Version 2009 (52 species 84 subgroups) on Oct 9. The following is the biomass level and trend of pollack intended for TAC:

[Northern Japan Sea]: The level of the biomass is low and its trend is heading downward. Harvest amounts for 1970-1992 stayed between 84,000 to 163,000 tons. Since 1993, catches have plunged; the 2008 catch of 18,000 tons was recorded, the lowest fall since a 2007 level. The biomass for 2008 exhibited a slight improvement because of the recruitment of the 2006 year class. The biomass for 1987-1992 remained high from 712,000 to 868,000 tons. Downward trends started after 1991. The amount for 2007 marked 88,000 tons, about 10 percent of the peak time record. In 2008 it improved to 122,000 tons due to the recruitment of the 2006 year class fish; however, the biomass level remains low.

The quantity of parent fish for 2008 recorded 36,000 tons, falling far below a target level of 141,000 tons, or Blimit (an amount of parent fish needed for resource recovery). It was the record low since 1980. Parent fish are in decline, renewing the record each year; as Bban (parent fish quantities that require a fishing ban) a parent fish amount of 30,000 tons was suggested. It demands a significant reduction in catches and there is a plan to bring it back to Blimit in 10 to 30 years.

[Pacific]: The biomass is medium and is showing a downward trend. An amount of parent fish has been stable since 1981; and the year of 2008 marked 255,000 tons of parent fish, higher than the past average.

The biomass for 2008 registered 804,000 tons, the record low. It displayed a relatively stable move since 1981; however, starting in 2002, there has been seen a declining trend. Fish two years old or older have been fairly steady and since 1999 a medium level has been kept.

The catch for 2008 added up to 154,000 tons, about the same as last year. Up until the 1980s, a catch of 200,000 tons or more was recorded; and in the 1990s, the catch amounts increased after the high recruitment successes of 1991, 1994, 1995, and 2000 year classes. 18,100 tons were recorded in 2004; thereafter, it has been trending downward.

For management measures, even if a low value of RPS (Recruitment per Spawning) continues, the goal is to keep parent fish quantities above Blimit.

[Southern Okhotsk]: An evaluation of the biomass in this area became difficult, as a result of unclear fishing conditions in the adjacent Russian waters. Based on the evaluation of the Japan Sea waters, the biomass of this area is low and it indicates an upward trend. There is information about the abundant 2005 year class in the Russian waters.

The catch for 2008 was 27,000 tons; 5,000 tons more than the previous year’s record. Catches were calculated based on the fishing year (from April to March of the following year). The catches before the early 1980 exceeded 100,000 tons; however, more stringent fishing regulations and boat reductions in the former USSR waters, the catch plummeted in 1986. Moreover, fishing operations in the area were switched to snow crab, leading to the even lower catch. After 1990, a low level of 6,000 to 27,000 tons was maintained.

[Nemuro Strait]: The biomass of this area is low and its trend will remain unchanged. The catch is slumping, less than 10 percent of the peak time; its biomass level will be low. The catches during the fishing seasons remained flat and in the recent years, the relatively high new recruitments were detected, leading to the result of a marginal change.

The catch for 2008 rose to 10,000 tons, a slight increase from the previous year. The catches sharply declined after hitting 111,000 tons in 1989. In 1994, it reached such a low number of 15,000 tons; and thereafter, an all time low record of 8,000 tons was registered in 2000. The TAC at the neighboring Russian waters has been increasing since 2008; and in 2009, it grew to 350 percent compared with 2007.

For 1986-1992, a Russian trawl fleet registered a catch of 15,000 to 172,000 tons in near the Japan Sea waters; however, after 2004, the catches remained around 1,000 tons (the catches were calculated based on the fishing year April to March of the following year).

The biomass has been slumping in the recent years, less than 10 percent of the high time and the year of 2008 recorded a catch of 10,000 tons; the estimation of the biomass based on the recorded catches, it is believed to be a low level. Judging from the age structure of the catches, eight year old or older fish, which have constituted the catches for years, are exhibiting a downward trend. Moreover, it is guessed that the relatively high new recruitment of the 2003 year class has been added in the picture during the recent years.

In terms of the trend, the records of the past five years indicated marginal changes; and also the new recruitment has been acknowledged, leading to the conclusion that it will display a horizontal move.

In order for resources recovery, catches need to be lowered. Both Japan and Russia target fish that migrate for spawning during winter; collecting information from Russia is required, because Russia utilizes large trawlers as opposed to Japan’s gill netting and longlining fisheries.

The original article was published on October 22, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Research Group for Market Function Proposes Distribution Reform

October 22, 2009

The “Research Group for Market Function” (under Chairman Yuki Takagi), formed to discuss seafood distributions by the National Central Market Fish Wholesale Association, released its midterm summary in Tokyo on October 16.

Chairman Takagi, Miyagi Univ. Associate Chancellor Kazunuki Oizumi who acts as a project general manager of the group, and Hiroyasu Ito, Chairman of the National Central Market Fish Wholesale Association attended the press meeting.

Chairman Takagi said, referring to the midterm summary, “The industries that deal with ichthyophagy are in dire straits, which is greatly serious. It is our mission to suggest how wholesale markets should function based on the understanding of today’s circumstances and to explain reasons behind our proposals in an urgent manner. That is why we decided to come up with the midterm summary. Aiming for the formulation of fundamental polices that can replace the basic polices of wholesale market improvements effective until 2010, we wish to give the government some suggestions that are not the extension of the conventional, existing polices.”

The basic aim is for, based on consumption information, a radical reform of distribution sources whose goal is to expand fish consumption. The midterm summary revolves around the four pillars: 1) the goal to structure a total supplier chain by the structural reform of the seafood distributions; 2) the goal to enhance a wholesale function for the distribution sources reform; 3) the goal to construct the infrastructures of information and goods distributions by the public and private sectors; and 4) the goal for the country to build a grand design of wholesale market sites, to clarify the ways of public support, and to boldly and resiliently reorganize a budget and the organizations of fisheries and distributions.

Mr. Oizumi said, referring to an item 1, “The current process of seafood wholesale market distribution is very lengthy; as opposed to a process of the leading foods wholesalers (foods coordination traders), seafood wholesalers (commissioned traders) take twice as much. No body from producers to consumers is happy with this distribution system.”

In addition, concerning an item 4, he said, “Restrictions by wholesale market law, which have been revised twice, are the main factors which generate hostile relationships between wholesalers and intermediate wholesalers, and between producing markets and consumer markets. There is no raison d’etre of this law; therefore, it is time to come up with the new one.” He indicated a grand design of nationwide wholesale market sites, which would help construct a network system surrounding large volume markets.

Chairman Ito from the National Central Market Fish Wholesale Association said, “For us wholesale market companies, [the midterm summary] is such a heavy topic. Serious issues were thrown at us. We will discuss the issues with our member companies and start addressing whatever we can.”

Chairman Takagi also said, “Paying close attention to the government’s work for the fundamental policy reform, we want to sum up our concrete proposals by as early as next spring.”

The original article was published on October 19, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Japanese Far Seas Purse Seiner Rescues Bonito Fishermen

October 19, 2009

According to the Japan Far Seas Purse Seine Fishing Association, one of its members, “Dai-Juhachi Jyoetsu-Maru” (349 tons and Captain Kimio Abe) of Okura Gyogyo in Niigata City, rescued two Pilipino bonito fishermen drifting on a payao (a raft for gathering bonito) in the Micronesian waters, the Midwestern Pacific.

Based on a story by shipwrecked fishermen, they sailed out of General Santo, Philippines, on a bonito fishing boat on July 26. On August 15, they moved to a smaller boat from a mother ship operating at a fishing ground in Indonesia; while engaging in fishing operations, the boat was forced to leave the mother ship due to a storm, ending up going adrift. Thereafter, they switched to the payao they happened to locate and awaited a rescue, surviving an ordeal by catching fish.

The original article was published on October 19, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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