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Countries finalize large Pacific tuna catch quota increase

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Bluefin tuna is unloaded from a transport ship in Tottori Prefecture in June.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Countries have reached a final agreement to raise the catch quota of large bluefin tuna in the western and central Pacific weighing at least 30 kilograms by 15% in 2022 from the previous year, Japan’s Fisheries Agency said Tuesday.

This marks the first expansion of the bluefin tuna catch quota in the western and central Pacific since the current fishing restrictions were introduced in 2015.

The agreement means that Japan’s catch quota will grow by 732 tons to 5,614 tons, an expansion expected to increase tuna supply and lower prices in the country.

The agreement was reached at an annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission that was held online from Wednesday.

Japan’s request for a quota expansion had been rejected for the past three years due mainly to opposition from the United States, which claimed that the amount of tuna stocks remains low.

At subcommittee meetings leading up to the annual session, Japan had proposed raising catch quotas for large and small tuna by 20% each.

Japan’s request regarding small tuna weighing less than 30 kilograms had been declined due to a possible decrease in stocks in the future. But countries had agreed on a 15% quota increase for large tuna after the United States softened its stance thanks to a recovery in stocks.

“Fishermen made serious efforts to manage resources while making a big sacrifice,” Miwako Takase, a Fisheries Agency official who was Japan’s chief negotiator, told a news conference after the annual meeting. “The recovery in stocks was recognized” by member economies, she said.

The commission may have achieved its goal of restoring the amount of tuna stocks to a certain level by 2024, according to Takase.

The annual meeting brought together 26 economies, including Taiwan and Vanuatu in addition to Japan and the United States.

In the eastern Pacific, the bluefin tuna catch quota is set to increase 15% next year. In the Atlantic, Japan’s catch quota will grow by 257 tons to 3,483 tons.