In 2019, global supplies of frozen skipjack remained stable at record low prices. In the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), tuna catches were moderate, except during the FAD fishing closure (July-September). Overall catches in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) remained low. In Ecuador, tuna canners faced raw material shortage until April 2019 with some improvements occurring from May to July 2019. Again, fishing efforts were low during the IATTC “veda” fishing closures (29 July to 8 October 2019 and 9 November 2019 to 19 January 2020). Catches in the Indian Ocean also fluctuated from low to moderate between July to December 2019.
In the Atlantic Ocean, tuna catches were reasonably good from April to July and October to November 2019, but weakened during the low catch periods of August and December.
Due to larger carry-over stocks from 2018, total frozen tuna imports in Thailand declined by 1.5 percent to 629 000 tonnes in 2019. Nearly 36 000 tonnes of Thai imports consisted of semi-processed cooked loins. Spain imported 255 500 tonnes of tuna raw material for the canneries, consisting of 155 800 tonnes of whole tuna and 100 000 tonnes of cooked loins. Compared to 2018, imports of frozen tuna were higher in Ecuador (168 175 tonnes), due to lower regional catches in the Eastern Pacific. Frozen skipjack imports increased significantly by 371 percent to 145 600 tonnes in 2019. Frozen tuna imports also increased in the Philippines (+27.7 percent to 179 000 tonnes). In contrast, Chinese annual imports of raw frozen tuna in 2019 declined by 16.5 percent to 89 000 tonnes.