South Korea city holds oyster auction amid tight supply
Seafood wholesalers competitively outbid each other at an oyster auction on Thursday in South Korea's Tongyeong ahead of the upcoming harvest season which is expected to fall far short of demand.
Tongyeong, hailed as the "city of oysters", has an annual oyster output of over 40,000 tons, accounting for more than 70 percent of South Korea's total oyster output.
On Thursday afternoon, the city held its first oyster auction this fall, after a one-week postpone due to production shortages this year.
In light of the possible shortage, wholesalers bid competitively for the oysters, driving the price up to about 60 yuan (about 9 U.S. dollars) per kilogram, far exceeding expectations.
This year, aquafarms in South Korea have suffered huge losses, totaling more than 10.1 billion won (about 8.9 million U.S. dollars), due to a number of factors including an abnormally long rainy season and multiple typhoons. Oyster farms have also suffered great losses caused by massive oyster deaths.
These problems were then compounded by staff shortages. Foreign workers accounted for nearly half of the workforce in oyster fishing and the processing industry in previous years. The total number of foreign workers in South Korea's fishing industry stands at about 3,500 every year.
However, fewer than 300 workers have entered the country this year due to the COVID-19 epidemic, about eight percent of their usual level.
Oyster harvesting and processing activities in the upcoming oyster harvest season are also under pressure due to a staff shortage.