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The government has suspended the import of about 2,200 tons of farmed Atlantic bluefin tuna due to documentation flaws, in the first such action under an international scheme designed to block the illegal catch and trade of the fish, official sources said Thursday.

Both advocates and those opposed to a ban on Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin are likely to seize on the move. The Fisheries Agency opposes a ban proposal that signatory states of the Washington Convention will consider when they meet in Qatar from Saturday.

While Japanese officials say Tokyo’s action shows that the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas’ catch documentation scheme is functioning, environmental groups see it as evidence of widespread fishing outside of ICCAT control.

Following a proposal last year by Monaco, the state parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora are expected to vote at the upcoming meeting on whether to ban cross-border trade of the fish as a species threatened with extinction.

Japan, which consumes 80 percent of the world’s yearly catch of the highly prized species, has said it will not comply if a total ban is imposed on international trade in bluefin tuna, citing a right to lodge its reservations.

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