Dwindling catches and soaring prices spell trouble for Hokkaido's 'squid town'
Japan Times -- Nov 02
As wholesale prices skyrocket for Pacific flying squid amid a record low catch in Japan, processing companies in the “squid town” of Hakodate, Hokkaido, are scrambling to stay afloat.

The squid shortage, caused by fluctuations in ocean temperatures, years of overfishing and lenient regulations, has seen local profits tumble.

Figures released by the city’s regional wholesale market show the haul from June to September was the lowest since collection of monthly data began in 2005, and half the amount from the same period last year.

As a countermeasure against rising prices, the city is creating incentives for squid processors through a local subsidy program in an effort to save the industry.

“I go out fishing and sometimes I can’t catch even one squid. There aren’t enough to catch anymore,” said Junichi Wakamatsu, 61, a veteran fisherman in Hakodate.

Although the season gets underway in June, only 337 tons of fresh squid reached Hakodate’s market through September, significantly below the previous low of 661 tons caught last year in the same period.

At the Hakodate Squid Festival in early October, when fans tuck into the city’s favorite squid dishes each year, some vendors were forced to close due to the shortage.

Later the same month, at the regional wholesale market, buyers bid on the scant squid stocks in a building that once housed box upon box of the fish for processing. “The prices have just shot through the roof,” lamented Satoshi Kamata, 31, of squid processor Ebisu Shokai in Hakodate.

News source: Japan Times
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