"Lost Bonitos" Caught in Winter Becoming Popular

Politics Economy

Tokyo, Dec. 21 (Jiji Press)--So-called lost bonitos, caught off-season, are increasingly drawing attention as a wintertime delicacy in Japan, with their prices rivaling domestic natural bluefin tunas.

While bonito is usually caught in spring and autumn in Pacific waters off the northeastern prefecture of Miyagi and Chiba Prefecture, eastern Japan, the special lost bonitos are found in winter and unloaded at ports on the Sea of Japan side, such as those on Sado Island in the central prefecture of Niigata and in the city of Himi in neighboring Toyama Prefecture.

According to researchers, there seem to be schools of bonito that get "lost" and swim into the Sea of Japan from waters to the south of the Kyushu southwestern main island of Japan.

Only small amounts of lost bonitos are caught, and the volume of shipments to the Toyosu major wholesale food market in Tokyo is lower than 10 pct of that for on-season bonitos. Wholesale prices are jacked up compared to on-season bonitos as a result, with some caught in late November and later fetching over 7,000 yen per kilogram, roughly on par with those of bluefin tuna from Oma, Aomori Prefecture in northeastern Japan. Waters off Oma are known as one of the best fishing grounds for tuna in Japan.

"The high quality of their flesh is becoming well known, so they now sell out quickly," a Toyosu wholesaler said of lost bonitos.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press