TOKYO,27 NOVEMBER 2017 (JAPAN TIMES) — An international panel’s decision to lift the ceiling on bluefin catches in the eastern Atlantic Ocean has drawn mixed reactions in Japan, with wholesalers welcoming the prospect of activated trading and tuna farmers concerned over fiercer competition.


At an annual meeting in Morocco, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas decided to raise the catch ceiling by 50 percent or more by 2020. So Japan’s quota will rise to 2,800 tons from 1,900 tons, in 2020.

“Atlantic tuna is rising in popularity as a substitute for large tuna, including from the Tsugaru Strait” between Honshu and Hokkaido, where catches have recently been falling, said an official of a wholesaler at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward. “It’s encouraging that the quota will be boosted,” the official said.

Another tuna wholesaler at Tsukiji said, “As Japan’s catch quota is also set to be raised for southern bluefin tuna, another kind of high-grade tuna, we expect that fatty tuna trading will become active.”

Possible price falls after larger hauls will likely lead to an increase in orders from large retailers, the wholesaler said.

In the meantime, tuna farmers are wary of the possibility of tuna from the Mediterranean Sea, which once dominated the Japanese market, regaining strength. The ICCAT program also covers Mediterranean tuna.

A senior official at the tuna farming division of a major fishery explained that shipments of Japanese tuna, including fish from full-cycle farming, are planned to be boosted across the industry from next year.

With the lifting of the Atlantic tuna catch quota, “we’ll inevitably have an oversupply if nothing is done,” the official said, voicing concern that prices may collapse due to increased competition.

A tuna farmer in Nagasaki Prefecture said Atlantic tuna, by a twist of fate, will be taking a different path from tuna caught in Japanese waters, where fishing restrictions have been imposed to avoid resource depletion.

“We have to compete on quality,” the tuna farmer said..PACNEWS [/restrict]