Japanese proposal for bluefin catch increase rejected

Published on
September 13, 2018

Japan’s proposal for increasing the catch quota of Pacific bluefin tuna by about 15 percent from 2019 has been rejected.

Japan made its request at the committee meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Fukuoka, Japan, which took place 3 to 7 September. Japan pushed for the quota increase after scientific data showed a recovery in the stock.

The 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 (MT) 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’s rules for how its bluefin quota can be raised require a probability of 75 percent, meaning Japan’s request did not clear the threshold set by the commission’s guidelines.

The proposal was supported by Taiwan and South Korea but opposed by the United States and the Cook Islands. Proposals for quota increases require unanimous approval of the members. WCPFC's current members include Australia, China, Canada, Cook Islands, the European Community, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Tonga, Tuvalu, the United States of America, and Vanuatu.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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