Japan's catch of Pacific saury, a popular fish in the autumn months, is on track to hit a record low this season.
The Japan Fisheries Information Service Center says the nationwide haul up until the end of October was 19,790 tons.
That's about 20 percent of the volume caught up until the same time last year, and 40 percent of the amount from two years ago, when Japan recorded its poorest haul since 1969.
If the total catch this season is below 63,000 tons, the amount caught in 1969, it will make 2019 the worst year since recordkeeping began in 1950.
Fishermen have recently spotted schools of the fish near the coast, suggesting that this year's peak has arrived a few weeks later than usual.
The revelation has helped to ease prices. At Tokyo's Toyosu market, the average wholesale price for a kilogram of saury in the final week of October was about 4.6 dollars, a drop of about 50 percent from September levels.
But the season usually finishes at the end of November, which means fishermen only have a few weeks left to compensate for their poor haul to date.
Japan, China, Taiwan and other economies agreed this summer to set a ceiling on Pacific saury catches in the North Pacific starting next year. It's the first cap aimed at protecting dwindling stocks of the fish.