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Food & Beverage

Hokkaido sea urchin and salmon decimated amid rare red tide

Die-off linked to record heat seen affecting supplies for years to come

Shells of dead sea urchins washed ashore in the Hokkaido town of Erimo.

TOKYO -- An unprecedented red tide in Hokkaido has contributed to huge numbers of sea urchin and salmon dying, driving up the price of these fixtures in traditional Japanese New Year's cooking.

The phenomenon is suspected to be related to warmer-than-usual water temperatures amid this summer's intense heat wave, suggesting a link to climate change. The die-off is expected to affect supplies -- and prices -- of uni and ikura, or salmon roe, for the next few years, on top of the economic disruption already wrought by the pandemic.

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