Anglers land first bluefin tuna of 2020

The annual bidding war is about to begin for the first bluefin tuna of 2020. The Pingtung-registered trawler Horng Ji Fa Tsai brought the fish in for inspection at Donggang Port on Monday. Its estimated weight is 200 kilograms. Last year’s first bluefin tuna sold at a whopping NT$8,800 per kilogram. This year, anglers are expecting to fetch a lower price due to the pandemic.

Shortly after reporting their big catch, anglers docked at Donggang Port with the fish in tow for appraisal.

Lin Han-chou
Tung Kang Fishermen’s Association
It weighs at least 180 kilograms, and it was caught live. So there’s no question that it will count as the first tuna of the year.

Per tradition, Pingtung’s first bluefin of the year will soon be up for auction. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fishermen aren’t optimistic over price.

Lin Han-chou
Tung Kang Fishermen’s Association
Last year’s market prices for bluefin tuna averaged NT$600 to NT$650 per kilogram. I think that this year, that will be slashed by half.

Chang Tien-hsing
Fishing vessel captain
Of course I’m worried about the price. But we’ve already caught it, so whether it sells high or low, we’re going to have to sell. Otherwise how will the migrant fishermen get paid? How will they eat?

In 2019, the first bluefin of the year sold at a whopping NT$8,800 per kilogram. But this year, the pandemic’s economic fallout may have restaurateurs thinking twice before bidding.

Hsiao Yu-tse
Seafood restaurant operator
Domestic consumption is still bad. We’ll watching on the sidelines for now. If consumption gets better, we’d be willing to bid for the first tuna. Whatever profit we get from the fish, we’ll donate to health care personnel.

The auction for Pingtung’s first bluefin tuna of 2020 will go ahead as planned despite the coronavirus. So will the Pingtung Bluefin Tuna Cultural Festival. At the port, a giant inflatable tuna reminds passersby of the pandemic. Event organizers say they will take all proper virus precautions including crowd control.

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