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Weakened Yen Cuts Bluefin Prices For Exporters Australia, April 9, 13

Party between the Australian dollar and the Japanese yen will cause headaches for the local tuna industry as it moves into harvest.

The weakened Yen is now trading at 100 to the Australian dollar, meaning the value of the yen has dropped by 20 percent since September.

Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association chief executive officer Brian Jeffriess said the industry lived with fluctuations in currency, but a 20 per cent change in the short time frame was extreme.

“It could not have been predicted,” he said.

“As the tuna industry sells in Yen, it would normally mean a 20 percent reduction in income without any reduction in costs. This makes business very tough.”

Mr. Jeffriess said the weakening of the Japanese Yen was an attempt by the new Japanese government to make the country’s economy grow faster, and move from deflation to inflation.

“If this new policy is successful, then in the longer term the Australian tuna industry will benefit from the stronger Japanese economy and demand for tuna,” he said.

“Some of the challenges for the tuna industry are ones we ourselves have created. In the case of the Yen weakening, it is beyond our control. Normally to insure ourselves against such major currency changes, we hedge the currency risk for some years ahead. However, this is only possible if you know what the quota, and exports will be.”

Mr. Jeffriess said until March, the tuna industry was unaware if the fishery’s quota would increase or decrease, but he said scientific data had now showed the quota would at least stabilize.

“The reality is that we have been hugely penalized by the unfortunate timing of the quota decisions, and by the change in Japanese government policy on the Yen,” he said.

“All you can do in these circumstances is produce the best quality product, and hope that the Australian government does not force inefficiencies on the industry. This is a debate we are about to have with the government, and we can only hope that they act fairly and within the law.”