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Current Situation of China’s Tuna Fisheries

OPRT held its second seminar in Tokyo on Nov.15, reporting the result of the study mission dispatched to China, last August, by OPRT. Professor Lou Xiabo, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, who participated in the mission, reported that the current demand of the sashimi – grade tuna market is about 12 thousand tons which include about 3 thousand tons of high quality tunas such as southern bluef in tuna, maintaining the same level for recent years.

He explained the main reasons why the demand has not increased as was expected, as follows: ① competition with fresh salmon and Chinese consumers prefer salmon because of price, tastes, etc. ② less promotion advertisement than for salmon ③ suitable cold chains for distributing tunas in fresh have not been yet well developed ④ prohibition of tuna processed by using CO gas, causing business risk of distributors ⑤ shrunk expenditures of entertainment by the government’s order.

He also reported that China’s tuna fishing industry is suffering from increase of costs (labor costs, fuel and baits) and decrease of income because of decreasing catch, low fish price and unfavorable exchange rate).

Mr. Daishiro Nagahata, Managing Director of OPRT, as a member of the mission, reported, in response to his concerns about recently expanded China’s tuna longline fleet operating in the WCPO, the Chinese side had responded that “the said longliners are targeting albacore and do not have deep-freezing capacity, and, therefore, it will not bring adverse impacts on the Japanese sashimi tuna market”. Nagahata added that the number of newly built vessels of that fleet had further increased since the mission’s visit to China and the OPRT Secretariat would continue careful watch on this fleet, in par ticular, in relation to the sashimi tuna market.