Japan Hoarded Tuna To Keep Sushi Price Down?

Astonishing - the Japanese government admits to having hoarded some 25,000 tonnes of tuna, thus "there is no reason to fear tuna prices will spike or that the inventories of tuna will run out," the minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries said at a news conference, according to Kyodo News.

Hirotaka Akamatsu inherited this problem - and the inventory - from the LDP government, but that doesn't make his comment less silly.

Japan has about 25,000 tons of bluefin and southern bluefin tuna in inventory — most in the past decade. Because there is ample inventory, the agency predicts tuna prices are unlikely to rise anytime soon.

Commenting on the decision Sunday by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas to slash the annual bluefin catch limit by some 40 percent in 2010, Akamatsu said, "It's good that we can continue fishing for tuna."

Of course the government knew that quotas would be reduced. Negotiations have been going on for years at the ICCAT. Monaco even proposed a complete ban on trade in maguro, the Atlantic blue fin tuna, to save the dwindling stocks. There would still be Pacific tuna coming to Japan, according to The Asahi, so fret not, the government has a plan. Or at least they say they do. Or at least until March, 2010, when the ban will be discussed again at the conference of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

...a one-year moratorium on bluefin tuna fishing was discussed as an alternative to the proposed trade ban. The moratorium would be an attempt to restore trust in the ICCAT while also allowing fishing to continue.

However, nations with large fish farms opposed the one-year moratorium.

In a compromise, the catch for 2010 was limited to 13,500 tons. The number could be lowered further after the ICCAT's Standing Committee on Research and Statistics conducts a study on the availability of the fish in 2010.

The deal also includes an emergency provision that would impose a fishing ban should an unexpected situation arise, such as finding a smaller number of young fish. The Standing Committee on Research and Statistics recommended in November 2008 that 15,000 tons was an appropriate annual catch for Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Due to resistance from large tuna farming nations such as Spain and France, the ICCAT earlier set annual catch limits of 22,000 tons for 2009, 19,950 tons for 2010 and 18,500 tons for 2011. That move was criticized by environmental conservation groups.


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