NEMURO, Hokkaido -- The season's first catch of about 260 kilograms of Pacific saury arrived at Hanasaki Port here on Aug. 18, and sold at auction for an astounding 54,000 yen (just under $400) per kilogram -- a record price for a stick-held dip-net fishing port.
Amid reports of poor saury catches, the season started off with high prices of over 5,000 yen (about $37) per fish. The saury, a popular fall flavor in Japan, was landed by the 19-ton Dai-55 Kinryumaru boat belonging to the Habomai Fisheries Cooperative Association, which sailed off on Aug. 10.
Chief fisherman Eiji Kitami, 36, commented, "There were fewer saury than we expected, and there was nothing that looked like a school."
Highest bidder Takahisa Saito, 36, president of Eiho Reizou Co. in Nemuro, Hokkaido, said, "I think it's expensive, but it's in-season. I bid that price to let people know that (the season for) Nemuro's saury has started."
The main way to catch saury is stick-held dip-net fishing, in which a school of saury is lured by a light into a net attached to rods. Saury catches have been poor since 2015, and last year's national haul marked a record low for the third year running, at 18,291 metric tons.
(Japanese original by Hiroaki Homma, Nemuro Bureau)