GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

Tuna - April 2012


During the third quarter of 2011, the high consumption season of sashimi tuna in Japan, supplies of quality bluefin and bigeye tuna were lower than in previous years.

armed bluefin supplies from Spain and Mexico were 20-30% lower in 2011 than in previous years. To fill future supply gaps, domestic bluefin farming is expected to increase in Japan.

In the Western Pacific, a key part of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) conservation and management for tuna is limiting the number of fishing days in PNA waters. Solomon Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu closed their EEZs in the Western and Central Pacific to foreign fishing fleets from 20 November 2011 to 1 January 2012, as the allocation of fishing days managed by the PNA had been exhausted. 


SAGARPA has established the dates for tuna fishing closure under the Mexican federal jurisdiction of the Pacific Ocean, which applies to bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack. The closure periods will be effective for the period 18 November to 18 January for the years 2011 to 2014. These rules apply to the commercial purse seine boats with Mexican flag operating on the high seas and in foreign waters of the Eastern Pacific Oceans located within the boundary of North, Central and South America.


Market demand was relatively good for sashimi tuna during the year-end/New Year celebration period from the last half of December until the first week of January. Restaurant trade was moderate and supermarkets had good business for take-away packs for celebrations at home – still a sign of austerity measures.   

Japan’s tuna landings were at a five year low in the January-September period of 2011, not unexpected after the tsunami in March 2011.  In contrast, landings of fresh tuna for some varieties increased as fishing in domestic waters intensified.


Demand for imported fresh and frozen tuna (whole/dressed) has declined consistently for several years. This continued in 2011. Overall imports of fresh and frozen tuna were 177 662 tonnes during January-September 2011 compared with 99 881 tonnes in the same period in 2010. During this period, imports of frozen tuna fillet were 20% higher at 26 405 tonnes, of which 65% was the redmeat (yellowfin/bigeye) variety.

Supplies of frozen bigeye in the market declined from the main source – Taiwan Province of China, but the reduction in supplies did not result in a substantial price rise for bigeye or yellowfin, particularly for smaller sized fish. This can be linked to the large supply of frozen Southern bluefin coming from Australia.


The continued economic downturn, the weaker US dollar and rising tuna prices worldwide were some reasons why the market imported smaller quantities in the first nine months of 2011. The weaker US dollar against currencies in the exporting countries made the situation more different for importers in view of 20-25% price surge in international prices.  Rising costs of raw material, production and transportation also added to import costs. 

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