The sale of tuna caught in Vietnamese waters at a wholesale market in Osaka on Friday marked a major step forward for fishermen who have struggled to keep their catches fresh enough for Japanese tastes.
The fishermen have adopted a system that stuns the fish with electric current, preventing them from thrashing about and helping to keep the meat undamaged. They are also draining the blood quickly to keep the fish fresh, a technique taught in a project commissioned by the Japan International Cooperation Agency that involves a nonprofit organization and private companies.
A tuna’s freshness determines its price. The eight yellowfin and bigeye tunas sold in Osaka fetched prices of ¥950 to ¥1,600 per kilogram, prices that traders say are decent.
Tuna is one of Vietnam’s mainstay exports, but it has rarely been exported to Japan because fishermen could not keep their catches fresh.
In 2013, the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Association in Sakai and Japanese enterprises based in Osaka Prefecture launched a project to modernize Vietnamese fishing methods. Their effort gained the support of JICA in June last year.
Officials say the project will continue through June 2017.