Skipjack tuna prices for July delivery in Bangkok, Thailand, fell below $1,500 per-metric-ton, a level they reached at the end of June, several industry sources confirmed to Undercurrent News.

Skipjack tuna in Bangkok have already been traded “below $1,500/t”, the buyer at a large company told Undercurrent on July 9, without specifying the exact level. “There are talks that it will reach $1,400/t [soon] but that level hasn’t been done yet”, he added.

Prices in Bangkok might fall for another month or two, he also said, noting that, however, the traded level should then recover due to the July start of the “veda” closure for fishing with aggregating devices in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, which will reduce catches in the region.

But a second source, a US-based trader, said the Bangkok skipjack price is “presently $1,400/t”. The trader also said that prices in Bangkok were “likely to continue downwards as there is still plenty of fish in the system and no shortage of supply”.

Higher supply into Bangkok and full inventories have caused a recent drop in skipjack tuna prices, according to the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

While supply into Bangkok has improved in recent months, cold stores are still full, preventing canners from buying large volumes of tuna, it was stated in June in a PNA market intelligence report.

Source: Thai Union Group

Yellowfin prices in Bangkok are often $250-$300/t more than skipjack, and not often quoted, he also added, asked by Undercurrent whether he could indicate a price reference for the species in Bangkok.

“Big yellowfin is short just about everywhere, and prices are very firm,” he noted. Other sources pointed out that yellowfin in the Indian Ocean and Spain was traded at €2,500/t or above, up to €2,600/t, depending on availability.

Meanwhile, catches in Ecuador were said not to be “great”.

Estimated tuna catches by purse seine and pole-and-line vessels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean remained below last year’s level between January and the start of June, according to the latest available figures from the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC).

In recent weeks, tuna catches by Ecuadorean vessels, which had recovered somewhat in April and May after several months of lower volumes compared with 2017, have been “really scarce”, according to some local industry sources.

One pointed to a recent earthquake in the Galapagos islands as a possible reason for bad catches, while another source contacted last month pointed to bad weather limiting fishing areas.

Despite lower catches in the region, Manta skipjack tuna prices have fallen less than in Bangkok. Prices in the region are also expected to be somewhat supported by the start of the yearly 72-day “veda” closure on July 29 in the region.

“Ecuador catches aren’t great, but there is certainly no fish shortage there. However, the veda is due to start on June 29, and most likely at least 50% of the fleet will opt to tie up. [Therefore], fish supply will become short within a fairly short time,” a US-based source said.

“The price today [in Ecuador] is about $1,600/t, and, in spite of falling Bangkok prices, hasn’t yet dropped. It is in fact among the highest, so it will be interesting to see what happens there. At the end of the day, Ecuador, in order to remain competitive, will probably need to drop the price to better compete with Bangkok if the price stays weak there,” the US-based source added.

By  July 10, 2018 14:31 BST

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