Tuesday, September 23, 2014

23/09/2014: Fish-hungry Japan slashes tuna catch by 50%

After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of blue fin tuna in the ocean.

 Last updated: 20 Sep 2014 11:17 [Al Jazeera]

A single weighty tuna with the right fat and meat could sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars in Japan [EPA]

After several decades of reckless overfishing, mostly by Japanese fleets eager to satisfy their country's increasing demand for sushi and sashimi, stocks of blue fin tuna in the Pacific Ocean have declined alarmingly. Japan accounts for more than 70 percent of the Pacific blue fin tuna caught, according to the government's Fisheries Agency.

As a consequence, the most recent stock assessment of Pacific blue fin tuna made by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC), noted that the population "level is near historically low levels and experiencing high exploitation rates".
The situation is so dire that Japan's Fisheries Agency felt compelled to announce in March it would cut the country's allowable haul of Pacific immature blue fin tuna by 50 percent in 2015.  The agency followed this up by lobbying other countries fishing in the region to do likewise, and this month succeeded in obtaining their agreement.

During a conference of countries belonging to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) that took place in Fukuoka, Japan, from September 1-4, the other major catchers of tuna - South Korea, Taiwan, Canada and the United States - promised to make the same deep cuts as Japan.            
"People realised something had to be done about the level of catch," Glenn Hurry, executive director of the WCPFC, told Al Jazeera. "The biomass [of the blue fin tuna] that researchers are talking about is only three to four percent of the original spawning biomass, which is not a level you should commercially fish fisheries."

Read more HERE.

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