Japan plans to slash by half the amount of juvenile bluefin tuna taken from the Northern Pacific starting in 2015 compared to the 2002-2004 average, a Fisheries Agency source said Saturday.
The sharp cut may lead to a rise in sashimi prices at supermarkets and restaurants, but the agency places a high priority on protecting bluefin tuna amid concern about declining stocks.
The move is also aimed at encouraging other nations to adopt massive cuts.
Last December, an international conference involving Japan agreed to cut each nation’s quota for juvenile bluefin tuna, or fish aged 3 years or younger, in 2014 by more than 15 percent from the 2002-2004 average.
But Japanese researchers concluded that Tokyo’s goal of raising bluefin tuna stocks to about 50,000 tons will not be achieved even if each country reduces its catch quota by 15 to 25 percent.
Stocks of bluefin tuna aged 4 or older in the Northern Pacific are estimated at 26,000 tons, according to the agency.
The agency will explain the plan at a meeting of the government’s Wide Area Fisheries Coordinating Committee on Monday.
In the summer of 2013, scientists, mainly from Japan and the United States, studied Pacific Ocean tuna stocks and discovered that the stocks have been falling to record low levels as a result of overfishing of young bluefin tuna.
In their report on a recent survey in February this year, due out by end of this month, the experts are expected to call on fishing countries to impose even stricter controls on tuna fishing.
The agency plans to accelerate talks with officials from the fishing industry over its plan to tighten regulations.
It hopes to decide on the details of the new regulations by around August and ask other countries at an international fishing conference in September to support Japan’s efforts.