Japan’s saury catch expected to remain low for fourth year

JIJI

Japan’s saury catches this season are expected to remain low for the fourth straight year, sources said on Monday.

The downbeat estimate is based on a recent survey by the Fisheries Agency.

The expected low number of catches reflects a decline in saury stocks and a shift in the fish’s migration areas from waters east of Hokkaido to the high seas far from the country due to a rise in seawater temperatures.

Prices of saury, an autumn delicacy in Japan, are likely to stay high, industry figures said.

The agency conducted the survey in waters near Japan and the high seas in June and July, ahead of this year’s saury fishing season from August through December.

In its 2017 survey, saury stocks in the areas were estimated at 595,000 tons for the year, down 50 percent from 2016.

The agency believes that the amount of saury migrating to waters near Japan in 2018 will be at a level similar to last year’s.

If saury migration areas shift to waters far from the country, Japanese fishermen whose main operating area is the country’s exclusive economic zone would face additional fuel costs.

Japan is also suffering from a drop in its catches because Taiwanese and Chinese fishermen catch saury in large amounts before the fish comes to Japanese waters, some analysts said.

Japan’s saury catches last year plunged to some 85,000 tons, the lowest level in about a half century.

At an international commission meeting in early July, Japan proposed the introduction of a cap on saury catches. But the commission failed to adopt the overture due to objections from China and Vanuatu.