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Tuna Supply-Demand Council and Forecast Group Say "Tuna Imports Will Decline"

June 7, 2010

The Fisheries Agency held the first 2010 Tuna Supply-Demand Council and Forecast Group Meeting. The following is what was discussed:

[Production] Deep-sea fishing on the east side of west longitude and part of the Central Atlantic Ocean brought back favorable catches from January through March; however, all basically slacked during a period of April to June. Amid the declining haul, this type of fisheries is undergoing a tough challenge facing the reality of prices refusing to climb up.

Coastal fishing is also experiencing poor catches. In the middle of worsening stock conditions for bigeye and yellowfin tunas, a shift to albacore is occurring. As a whole, the amount of fish caught will slightly fall in contrast with the previous year.

[Import Amount] Each fishing ground is producing a small quantity of akami (red flesh). Boat reductions are creating a condition of fewer wild tunas. As for fatty tuna, ICCAT regulation has been balking the customs clearances of bluefin tunas; thus supply amount will vary depending on the release date of the tunas.

In addition, payment is required right after customs clearance, making producers face capital shortages and thereby forcing some of them to halt productions. The future production amounts are projected to go down. A 25 per cent quota reduction in Southern bluefin in response to CCSBT will drastically decrease an Australian kind.

Overall, tuna imports will slump in comparison with the prior year.

[Wholesale Price] Akami of large-medium sized bigeye tuna went through a bearish year last year at market. Tuna wholesale prices slid in the same manner or even more weakly up until the Golden Week Holidays. Since the end of the Holidays, wholesale prices have been in decline resulting from increasing arrivals of fresh bonito and longlined tuna.

Fatty parts, since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, had endured a bearish market; they however hit the very bottom from January to March, showing a sign of an upward move from April on.

Moreover, progressive consumption of inventory and products waiting for customs clearances will help head close to the appropriate supply amount.

As a whole, wholesale prices are believed to display a horizontal move.

[Consumption] At retailers slumping frozen akami, increasing fresh akami, and significantly growing fatty tuna sales are being witnessed. Consumers getting fed up with being frugal have boosted the sales of products they have avoided, e.g. fatty tuna. Retail prices also are going back to the level of three or four years ago, inching closer to a fair price.

[Others] To understand supply amount, it is essential to pay close attention to the fact that the sashimi market of bigeye, domestically cultured bluefin and meji-maguro (young tuna) is expanding.

The summary of an overall tuna trend is that production, import, and supply amounts will drop or slightly drop; and wholesale prices will move sideways.

The original article was published on June 7, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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