Japan’s ability to abide by international restrictions on bluefin tuna fishing is in doubt. It appears that for the second year in a row, Japan will exceed its quota on small bluefin tuna caught in the Pacific Ocean.
The Fisheries Agency is calling for fishers to exercise self-restraint and trying other means to address the situation, but it will probably be unable to avoid international criticism.
In late January, the agency urged coastal fishers nationwide to refrain from catching small bluefin tuna weighing less than 30 kilograms until June. This is because Japan is approaching its quota of 3,424 tons for the current fishing season, which runs from July 2017 to June 2018.
With more than four months remaining in the season, 3,341 tons had been caught as of Feb. 14, which is 98 percent of the quota.
The Pacific bluefin tuna stock was 160,000 tons in 1961, but overfishing by Japan and others drastically reduced this to 17,000 tons in 2014.
Therefore, Japan, the world’s largest catcher and consumer of bluefin tuna, led an effort to introduce international catch limits, which were imposed on immature small tuna in 2015 and on adult fish in 2017.
An international organization Japan is part of decided fishing quotas for each country, and the Japanese government then allocates its national quota among the prefectures.
Japan’s quota for both adult and small fish is about 60 percent of the total.
The main reason why the quota is about to be exceeded is an unexpectedly big haul in some areas.