TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Fishermen in southeastern Taiwan are reporting a five-fold increase in the number of Pacific Bluefin Tuna (黑鮪魚) caught so far this year.
The Xingang District Fisherman’s Association in Taitung County said that there has suddenly been a huge spike in the number of Pacific Bluefin Tuna being caught off the coast of Taitung this year. Chen said that 100 of the gargantuan fish have been caught so far this year, five times the number seen over the same period last year, reported UDN.
The 100th Pacific Bluefin Tuna of the year was caught on Thursday (June 4). It weighed in at 327 kilograms and was auctioned off at a price of NT$160 per kilogram for a total profit of NT$52,320.
Li Hung-yung (李宏勇), director of the association said that there was a big surge of the mammoth fish this year. In all of last year only 20 were caught, but since January this year, the haul has reached 100, but due to the pandemic, prices are lower, said Li.
Pacific Bluefin Tuna caught on June 2. (Xingang District Fisherman’s Association photo)
When asked about the 327-kilogram tuna, Chen I-wei (陳毅瑋), the captain of the ship that caught it said, "Of course I'm happy to catch a Pacific Bluefin Tuna!" He said that although the price was not as high as he had expected, he hopes that he can catch more since it's a simple matter of "the more you catch the more you earn."
On Tuesday (June 2), one boat caught eight of the giant tuna. However the highest bid offered that day for a live specimen was NT$500 per kilogram, while most other bids averaged around NT$250, reported CNA.
Li said that actually the period from April to June, should be Mahi-mahi (鬼頭刀) season, but the catch was very meager this year. He suggested overfishing during the winter might have contributed to depleted stocks this spring.
The association said that the strong trend with Pacific Bluefin Tuna catches is helping to offset the losses from poor Mahi-mahi catches somewhat. Although the pandemic has affected auction prices, the association expressed the hope that the bountiful catch can help boost the incomes of struggling fishermen.
In addition, some of the catch is being exported to Hong Kong after a long lull in trade during the pandemic. One fish dealer announced that they would export 209 kilograms of the huge tuna to Hong Kong, reported Liberty Times.