The Fisheries Agency said Friday it has asked South Korea to stop excessive fishing of Pacific bluefin tuna in violation of international rules.
Being a major consumer of bluefin tuna, which is a pricey delicacy served as sushi, Japan took the step to urge its neighboring country to abide by internationally agreed rules on the stock. Many of the bluefin tuna caught by South Korean vessels are being exported to Japan.
The agency, which on Monday asked South Korea for the halt in catches of bluefin tuna weighing more than 30 kilograms, said it also asked Seoul to stop exporting such tuna to Japan and urged domestic firms against importing the products.
International restrictions have been in place since 2015 to protect bluefin tuna in the Pacific. The annual catch of such tuna of over 30 kg should not go beyond the average level in 2002 to 2004.
The agency said South Korean fishing vessels caught about 470 tons of bluefin tuna weighing more than 30 kg, which was marketed at the port city of Busan last week.
The South Korean government subsequently urged local fishermen on Saturday to refrain from fishing and stopped issuing certificates required for exports.
In response to concerns that Pacific bluefin tuna species are dwindling due to overfishing, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission implemented in 2015 a set of rules including a target to raise the stock to around 43,000 tons by 2024 and for the catch of bigger bluefin tuna not to exceed the 2002 to 2004 average.
The commission also agreed to halve the catches of bluefin tuna under 30 kg in the Pacific from the 2002 to 2004 average.