THIS year’s Port Lincoln Southern Bluefin Tuna harvest is being touted as the highest quality every produced.
Within two months 97 per cent of the 2015 harvest will be heading from South Australia to Japan to grace the plates of high-end restaurants.
Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association spokesman Brian Jeffriess said colder water temperatures than normal had resulted in the fat content of the fish developing faster creating a superior tasting product.
“It is the best quality I have ever seen,’’ he said.
“The trade off for the exceptional quality will be a slower growth rate in the pontoons.’’
The harvest also ended one month ahead of schedule as the fish were found much closer to shore this year than usual.
He said competition from Mexico, a lower Yen in Japan, an increase in the greenback in America, where some of the fish food is purchased and a reduced catch in 2015 still provided challenges to the industry.
“These are all regular elements of what our industry has to face,’’ he said.
“Part of our development is continuously improving how to manage those risks.
“Following the Free Trade Agreements Australia signed with South Korea, China and Japan the future looks very positive.
“We have just began introducing ourselves in to the South Korean and Chinese markets and when the reduced tariffs come into effect that will really help the industry gain traction in those countries.
“In China the tariff on Southern Bluefin Tuna will halve from 12 per cent to six per cent by the end of the year while tariffs in South Korea and Japan will slowly reduce over the coming years.’’
Currently just two per cent of the harvest is exported to China and other one per cent shared mainly with South Korea and Australia. The large majority is still exported to Japan.
The processed tonnage of 8400 tonnes in 2015 is down slightly on the previous year of 8600 tonnes.