Countries to discuss plunging tuna stocks

An international meeting to discuss fishing regulations on Pacific bluefin tuna, a species that has seen its population levels plunge dramatically as a result of overfishing, will be held for Aug. 28 in South Korea.

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Discussions at the meeting of a subcommittee of the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC) are expected to cover the long-term resource recovery goals set to be achieved by 2034.

Japan’s Fisheries Agency has been saying the goals can be achieved if it continues with its present regulations, which aim to reduce fishing of juvenile bluefin tuna by half. However, this year it did not adhere to these rules. The committee’s participating countries are keeping a close eye on Japan’s every move.

A national conference was held in Tokyo on Aug. 8 to discuss resource management of bluefin tuna. When the Fisheries Agency spoke about the outlook of the WCPFC meeting, they were met with protests from over 300 people involved in the tuna trade. They requested that resource management be loosened, even if only slightly. Some said they could hold out for three years or so, but could not wait 10 — they want regulations loosened as soon as possible. Staff members of the Fisheries Agency sought their understanding, explaining that they were planning to carry on with the current regulations and reach the goals already set.

There has been a dramatic decline in stocks of bluefin tuna in the western Pacific Ocean, including in the sea near Japan where the nation’s prime fishing grounds are. This is what led the commission to put long-term goals for stock replenishment in place. Participating countries include Japan, the United States, China and South Korea.

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