"Cherry blossom" shrimp is a rare seafood, landed only in Suruga Bay (east of the Izu peninsula) and in the waters off Taiwan. Sakura shrimp caught in Suruga Bay are prized for their size and sweetness, which local fishermen attribute to the snowmelt that runs into the bay from Mt Fuji every spring.
This year, the sakura shrimp fishing season began on the evening of April 14. That night, approximately two tons (1,910 kg) of sakura shrimp were landed at Yui, Japan's largest shrimp fishing port. The first auction was held in Yui early the following morning.
“We will strive to achieve both resource management and stable spring and autumn fishing,” said Junichi Miyahara, Chairman of the Yui Port Fisheries Cooperative at the auction. “Please enjoy the taste of fresh cherry blossom shrimp,” he told the crowd of buyers.
Shrimp aficionados were soon doing just that, flocking to fishmongers and restaurants in Shizuoka City to enjoy the exquisite taste of fresh sakura shrimp.
The sakura shrimp fishing season is scheduled to run until June 5. In order to balance resource management with the demands of the fishing industry, fishing was suspended between April 16 and April 22 and the authorities say they plan to suspend fishing on other days too. The final auction of the season is due to take place on the morning of June 6.
This month’s catches of sakura shrimp are the first to be landed since 2018. In an effort to preserve stocks, fishing was banned that year, but in mid-February, a resource survey confirmed the existence of abundant sakura shrimp in the northwest corner of the bay. This prompted the authorities to give the go-ahead for the resumption of fishing.
There are strict limits to how many shrimp can be caught in Suruga Bay, however. Even before sakura shrimp fishing was suspended in 2018, only 40 vessels were allowed to fish for the prized shrimp and their crews were permitted to cast their nets for just 10 minutes. This year, the rules have been relaxed somewhat: sixty vessels have been granted permission to fish and they can cast their nets for 20 minutes.
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