International regulations on fishing for bluefin tuna in the Pacific will be made tighter next year in the face of sharp declines in stocks of the fish, which is highly prized for sushi.
In a report released in July, international researchers estimated the ocean’s stocks of the adult fish, aged 4 years and above, in 2010 to be 22,606 tons, near the all-time low. This was due to excessive catching of juveniles before they had a chance to spawn.
Although catches of juvenile bluefin currently stand below the 2002-2004 average, this pace is still likely to lead stocks of adult tuna to fall below the record low level of 18,502 tons, set in 1984.
Because of this, the researchers called for a further cut in catches of young tuna.
In response, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) held a subcommittee meeting in Fukuoka in September, when it was agreed to work out a plan next September to help bluefin stocks recover.
To start, the subcommittee proposed a cut in juvenile tuna catches in 2014 from the 2002-2004 average by 15 percent or more.
Experts from nine nations attended the Fukuoka talks, but South Korea, which catches juvenile fish for export to Japan, refused to comply with the proposed cut. Japan and the seven others are urging South Korea to comply with the proposal by the annual meeting of the WCPFC in December.
In the Atlantic Ocean and also in the Mediterranean Sea, the overexploitation of bluefin tuna continued until 2007 in disregard of rules set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), causing stocks of adult tuna to decline by half from the peak level. More....