Japan has long loved consuming squid in countless forms, from ikameshi, which involves simmering the seafood with rice inside, to shiokara, a particularly pungent but popular appetiser made from fermented squid innards.
The statistics in Hakodate paint a particularly bleak picture of a squid industry in decline: fishermen reportedly caught 61,000 tonnes of Pacific flying squid in 2017, marking a 13 per cent drop compared to the previous year – and less than 30 per cent of the total squid catch 10 years earlier.
Many of the 70 seafood processing companies in Hakodate alone are opting to diversify in the face of squid shortages, switching a focus onto alternative maritime products.
Numerous businesses specialising in the production of squid-related treats have also been impacted by rising wholesale prices, which are reported to have doubled compared to the average year.
Mikiya, a company famed for producing shredded squid snacks, which once depended on products sourced at its base in Hakodate, now secures up to 50 per cent of its squid from outside Japan, including Argentina, Kyodo reports.
Yasunori Sakurai, professor of Fisheries Sciences at Hokkaido University and chair of the Hakodate Cephalopod Research Centre, has been warning fishermen about the potentially dangerous impact of climate change on Japan’s squid population for nearly two decades.