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Northern Pacific countries agree to cut bluefin tuna captures

Bluefin tuna capture. (Photo Copyright: FIS)
Click on the flag for more information about Japan JAPAN
Friday, September 05, 2014, 04:00 (GMT + 9)

Several countries and regions fishing in the northern Pacific have agreed to cut by half the number of young bluefin tuna they catch in an attempt to double the ocean's stock in 10 years.
This decision was taken at the end of a four-day subcommittee meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) held in Fukuoka, south-western Japan, in response to Tokyo's proposal for a drastic reduction on the 2002-2004 average catch, AFP informed.
The shift in Japan's policy towards more radical conservation comes after an international independent assessment found last year that stocks of this species had fallen 96 per cent from its original level, MSN News reported.
Attendees to these meetings included South Korea, the United States, Canada, Taiwan and Japan - the world's biggest consumer of tuna - hoping the move will help to safeguard the at-risk species.
Meanwhile, the non-profit, non-governmental organization The Pew Charitable Trusts participated in a presentation titled Current Situation of Pacific Bluefin Tuna (PBF) and Stock Management at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.
"There must be a strong recovery and rebuilding plan put in place for Pacific bluefin across its full range," pointed out Amanda Nickson, director of global tuna conservation for Pew.
"Countries have the responsibility to agree on a strong recovery plan that does more than simply move the population from severely depleted to slightly less seriously depleted," she added.
Cutting the catch in half would reduce Japan's annual catch of juvenile bluefins to about 4,000 tonnes from next year, out of a fisheries-wide catch of 4,725 tonnes, AP reported.
To contribute to the move, fisheries experts in Japan are rushing to devise techniques for commercially viable aquaculture of the deep-sea species.
To join the efforts, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last month issued stricter quotas for bycatches of Atlantic bluefin tuna on surface longlines meant to catch other species.
Furthermore, earlier this year, the EU proposed banning all use of driftnets in its waters and on its vessels by the year's end to better enforce the protection of dolphins, sharks, swordfish and bluefin tuna.
For its part, Greenpeace Japan welcomed the move, applauding the fact that the international forum had finally "taken a step forward" towards the sustainable control of the resources.
Wakao Hanaoka, an expert in marine ecology for the conservation body, urged Japan to take more initiative to conserve the species especially before they lay eggs.
"It would be insufficient if the resource control plan allows fishermen to sweep up schools of tuna before they lay eggs, even if the plan aims to increase the number of young fish," he said in a statement.
The territories in the northern part of the vast area covered by the WCPFC will present the plan at the organisation's annual conference in December, along with a 10-year recovery plan for Pacific bluefin tuna, beginning in 2015.
Related articles:
- Warnings over low western and central Pacific tuna stocks
- Govt plans to limit Pacific bluefin tuna catch
- Juvenile bluefin tuna catch to be cut in the Northern Pacific

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