Saury catches in 2022 hit record low for 4th consecutive year

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A fisherman unloads saury in Nemuro, Hokkaido, on Nov. 7, 2022.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan’s saury catches in 2022 dropped about 2% from the previous year to 17,910 tons, hitting a record low for the fourth consecutive year, a nationwide cooperative association of saury fishers said Tuesday.

The historically poor catch of the autumn delicacy reflects a decline in saury stock, as well as smaller catches in Russian waters due to worsened ties between Tokyo and Moscow.

Local market prices of saury shrank by 9%, as saury caught early in the fishing season were too small to fetch good prices.

By region, saury catches in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido fell 9% to 10,818 tons. Meanwhile, catches increased in two northeastern prefectures, growing 3% to 3,561 tons in Miyagi and around 20% to 3,421 tons in Iwate.

According to the association, saury fishing grounds have become more distant due to the changing marine environment, while soaring fuel prices have discouraged many vessels to not go fishing.

Many saury fishers also avoided operating in Russian waters.

Tougher international fishing regulations are considered essential for a recovery of saury stock.

But against the backdrop of the Russian war in Ukraine, a related international meeting was postponed for one year to March 2023, with by-country catch quotas for the year yet to be decided.