TOKYO -- Japanese trawlers in June caught bluefin tuna in quantities not seen for years, driving down prices for the delicacy and fueling sales promotions at retailers.
Fishers across Japan delivered 684 tons of fresh bluefin tuna to Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market last month, up 8% from a year earlier and the most since June 2008. Wholesale prices at times during June were roughly 30% cheaper than a year ago. Many bluefin tuna traded for around 1,000 yen ($9.76) per kilogram, or about half the average going rate a year prior.
Hauls are climbing at ports in Miyagi and Tottori prefectures. During the first five months of 2016, major ports in Japan have seen catches rise 50% from the year-earlier period, data from the Tokyo-based Japan Fisheries Information Service Center shows.
Seawater temperatures near Japan's northeast Tohoku region have been rising, and many fishing voyages planned for July reportedly were pushed up to June. Last month also was blessed with few days of inclement weather, allowing for more trips.
"The water temperatures were probably ideal for the development of bluefin tuna," said a source at the National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries.
The burgeoning supplies have supermarket chain Inageya holding sales events at around 30 locations. Virtuosos conduct performances where they fillet the tuna. Certain fatty tuna cuts sell for about 1,500 yen for 200 grams.
Kappa Create, which operates conveyor-belt sushi chain Kappa-Sushi, also launched a promotional campaign featuring tuna.
However, overfishing remains a concern. The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the Pacific and Atlantic bluefin tuna in its Red List of Threatened Species. Japan's Fisheries Agency has begun restricting capture of juvenile fish less than 30kg.