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International meeting ends without bluefin tuna fishing limit agreement

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JAPAN:Representatives of Pacific island states and countries around the Pacific Ocean meeting in Japan failed to reach an agreement on bluefin tuna stock protection measures and to adopt capture cutbacks amid concerns over dwindling supplies due to overfishing.

The talks took place at the Northern Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) annual conference held in Kyushu, where Japan proposed invoking a catch limit for two years if the stock of tuna younger than 1 year old remained at a low level for three straight years.

According to Japan’s Fisheries Agency, the participants, which included Japan, China, the United States, Fiji, Vanuatu, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines, the Cook islands and Taiwan, “could not reach an agreement” on proposed regulation after five days of talks.

On the other hand, conservationists meeting at a conference claimed that urgent action is needed to ensure the world’s largest tuna fishing ground, accounting for almost 60 per cent of the global catch, is protected.

Environmental groups expressed frustration over the stalemate, with Greenpeace calling it “extremely regrettable as the stock of Pacific bluefin tuna is in a state of emergency,” The Japan Times informed.

“Japan, the world’s largest consumer of bluefin tuna, bears the responsibility to strengthen domestic rules (on fishing),” the NGO said.

The conservation group has proposed an immediate two-year moratorium on all commercial fishing of the species.

“The latest stock assessment for Pacific bluefin, released in 2016, found that the population has been heavily depleted to just 2.6 per cent of its historic unfished size by nearly a century of overfishing,” Greenpeace said in its proposal.

Meanwhile, conservation group WWF has recommended the ten countries introduce a catch limit and adopt a long-term bluefin tuna recovery plan.

The issue will be discussed again at the committee's next annual meeting in South Korea.

Source: FIS

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