While swimming in the open ocean, tuna eat sardines and squid. It is at the top of the food chain. What led Japanese people to chase such a king anywhere in the world and put it on the dinner table were their desire to eat raw fish and the industrial power to transform fishing and the distribution system. It is a story that started in the high economic growth period of the postwar era, though the history of interaction between Japanese and tuna goes far into the past. The world of tuna has spread much wider for Japanese. However, how much do we realize that though we are eating it?We prepared graphics in the First chapter of the Tuna, the fish that became a world delicacy. Starting with the kinds of tuna, we show how much tuna are caught and how they are eaten. In the Second chapter, we see the jobs of experts in the Tsukiji market that have nurtured tuna to a delicacy. In the Third chapter, we explore technologies to freeze fish at 60 degrees below zero and cold chains that distribute them at low temperatures. Both of these have resulted in a revolution at the dinner table.
A slice of tuna on nigirizushi (hand-pressed sushi) is 12 grams. When we see tuna that do not have bones or skin, it is difficult to imagine in which sea and how it was caught. The following explains the world of tuna.
At present, seven kinds of tuna are mainly distributed in Japanese markets. Needless to say, high-grade tuna, such as two kinds of kuromaguro (bluefin tuna) and minamimaguro (southern bluefin tuna), are tasty. However, mebachi (bigeye tuna), a favorite of the public, is also delicious with a lot of fat when they are caught in autumn and winter while traveling northward in the sea off eastern Japan. Meanwhile, the spread of conveyor-belt sushi restaurants spotlighted the delicious taste of raw binnaga (albacore tuna). Kihada (yellowfin tuna) and koshinaga (longtail tuna) are favored in some regions. Though all of the seven kinds are tuna, they differ in appearance, production areas, flavor and what dishes they are used for.
There are mainly five tuna fishing methods. Ipponzuri (catching fish with fishing poles) in Oma, Aomori Prefecture, is famous. However, most tuna are caught through long line and purse seine fishing methods. In addition, they are caught in fixed nets or dragnets. Fishing methods change depending on which kind of tuna fishermen are trying to catch or in which sea they are attempting to do so. The methods also change depending on whether the tuna will be eaten as sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish) or canned. We will introduce three representative fishing methods with CG animations.
Source: FAO FishStatJ
Source: Kokusai Gyogyo Shigen no Genkyo (Current state of international fishery resources) compiled by the Fisheries Research Agency of the Fisheries Agency
Source: FAO FishStatJ
According to the estimate of the Organization for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries, which consists of tuna-related organizations throughout the world, the total consumption of tuna for sashimi in countries and regions except for Japan stood at about 150,000 tons in 2011. It was a 78 percent increase from the previous survey conducted in 2007. The increase was mainly attributable to the fact that the Japanese food boom has taken root among the public in Europe and the United States. Meanwhile, a sharp increase has yet to be seen in China where various food cultures exist. That is because the cold chain for the distribution of frozen tuna has yet to sufficiently spread. At present, those who can eat tuna sashimi are still only wealthy people that constitute a small portion of the population.
Global consumption of tuna for sashimi
Source: Compiled by the Organization for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries