Japan to propose catch increase for Pacific bluefin tuna

Published on
August 2, 2018

Japan will propose increasing the catch quota of Pacific bluefin tuna at a committee meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission planned for 3 to 7 September in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Japan will argue that it is feasible to increase catches by up to about 15 percent from 2019 due to a recovery in the stock, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has set a mid-term target of increasing stocks of adult Pacific bluefin tuna (those weighing 30 kilograms or more) from the latest estimate of the current 21,000 metric tons to 43,000 MT in 2024. The scientific committee of the commission announced in mid-July that the probability of achieving the target would be 74 percent if the total catch, including both fish weighing less than 30 kilograms and those over, were to increase by 15 percent from 2019. 

The WCPFC has set rules for how its bluefin quota can be raised, and Japan’s request does not appear clear the threshold set by the commission’s guidelines.

“If the SSB [spawning stock biomass] projection indicates that the probability of achieving the initial rebuilding target by 2024 is at 75 percent or larger, the WCPFC may increase their catch limits as long as the probability is maintained at 70 percent or larger, and the probability of reaching the second rebuilding target by the agreed deadline remains at least 60 percent,” according to the commission’s guidelines. “For this purpose, ISC [International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean] will be requested, if necessary, to provide relevant information on potential catch limit increases.”

Quotas on Atlantic bluefin tuna have already been raised, as a result in an increase in the resource due to restrictions on the catch of juveniles. But if the catch were increased to the level requested by Japan, the probability of achieving the rebuilding target would still fall just below the trigger for additional quota relaxation.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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