TOKYO (Jiji Press) — An international panel has decided to introduce a new framework to change catch quotas for Pacific bluefin tuna according to the extent of stock recovery.
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission made the decision at its annual meeting in Manila, which ended early Friday.
The WCPFC, which discusses resources management for tuna and bonito in the Western and Central Pacific, has 26 member economies, including Japan, the United States and China.
The panel has set a goal of increasing adult Pacific bluefin tuna stocks from about 17,000 tons in 2014 to around 41,000 tons by 2024.
In September, the WCPFC’s Northern Committee agreed to increase catch quotas once the probability of achieving the goal reaches 75 percent or more and to reduce the quotas if the figure falls below 60 percent.
With the WCPFC approving the introduction of the new rules, the framework to change catch quotas according to the speed of stock recovery is expected to be put in place in 2019 at the earliest.
As the condition for increasing the quotas is tough, however, critics say it is uncertain whether it will be met.
In Japan, there have been cases in which catches of Pacific bluefin tuna surpassed prefecture-by-prefecture quotas set by the government and calls are growing to make sure rules are followed.
“It’s a major step forward,” Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Ken Saito told a press conference on Friday, referring to the WCPFC’s latest decision.
“It’s the result of Japan leading the discussion as a responsible fishing country,” Saito also said.
The annual meeting of the WCPFC started on Sunday and was scheduled to end on Thursday.