Saury catches hit record low for 3rd year

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The nation’s saury catches in 2021 fell 38% from the previous year to 18,291 tons, hitting a record low for the third straight year, a fisheries cooperative association said Friday.

The amount represented a drop of 85% from 2018, according to data from the national group of saury fishers using stick-held dip nets.

The historic poor catches boosted trading prices in production areas by 29% from 2020 and more than threefold from 2018, making the autumn delicacy even more unaffordable.

The poor catches stemmed from a decline in the number of sauries coming to waters near Japan due chiefly to higher water temperatures. Other likely causes are massive catches by foreign fishing boats and a decrease in the overall saury resources.

By region, saury catches in Hokkaido, a major production area, rose 3% from the previous year to 11,945 tons.

Meanwhile, the number fell by over 60% in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. Fukushima, Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures had very few catches.

“I hear that Chinese and Taiwanese fishing boats could not catch sauries very much in 2021,” an association official said. “Extremely poor catches continued for three years. We won’t be able to keep our business going.”

Japan faces an urgent need to strengthen international fishing regulations further, industry people said.