Pacific yellowfin haul faces 30% cut

Kyodo News

A regional commission for ocean resources management has proposed to Japan and other members that the catch of yellowfin tuna in the Central and Western Pacific be cut by 30 percent, officials said Monday.

The proposal by the secretariat of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission would have a major impact on Japanese fishermen and consumers as Japan leads the world in catching the fish.

The WCPFC has scheduled an annual meeting for Dec. 8 to 12 in Busan, South Korea, and its members, chiefly Pacific Rim economies, are expected to agree to the proposal there, according to the officials.

Japan accounts for around 20,000 to 38,000 tons of the annual regional catch of 100,000 to 150,000 tons of the fish, which is widely consumed raw as sashimi and sushi.

It is considered a reasonably priced alternative to bluefin tuna, which was subject to an agreement reached last week by another resources management commission to trim quotas in the Atlantic by 20 percent. Yellowfin has also increasingly been canned in recent years.

The proposal on yellowfin tuna, quoting the commission’s Scientific Committee, notes that the species is subject to overfishing and will be placed in dire straits in the near future if no changes in quotas are made.

The secretariat is proposing immediate reductions in catches using seines and is seeking an agreement at the upcoming meeting on setting a three-month moratorium on fishing and controlling the use of devices to draw fish.

On long-line fishing, a method used by Japanese fishermen, the proposal calls for a gradually expanded reduction from 10 percent in 2009, 20 percent in 2010 and 30 percent in 2011.

The WCPFC, which counts the United States, China, South Korea, Taiwan and the European Union among its members, considered a catch reduction at its meeting last year, but the decision was postponed to this year’s meeting.

International conservation group Greenpeace said in a recent report that the aggregate quota of yellowfin tuna should be halved.