• Kyodo

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Japan, China, Taiwan and other countries have agreed to make an effort to curb chub mackerel catches in the northern Pacific Ocean, amid growing concern at overfishing by Beijing.

On Friday, during the three-day meeting in Tokyo of the North Pacific Fisheries Commission, its five nations and Taiwan also agreed to draw up a list of illegal fishing vessels and to take action against them, such as slapping an embargo on doing business with them.

Japan, Canada, China, Russia, South Korea and Taiwan joined the meeting that began Wednesday, with the United States and some other countries participating as observers.

Under the latest agreement, member economies will not increase the number of licensed fishing boats targeting chub mackerel until fish stocks are calculated across the globe.

Scientists are scheduled to start the calculation next spring and complete it “as soon as possible,” an official from Japan’s Fisheries Agency said.

But Japan, which catches chub mackerel in its exclusive economic zone, failed in seeking a consensus on its initial goal of prohibiting an increase in chub mackerel catches.

Mackerel catches by China in the North Pacific surged to around 134,000 tons in 2015, a nearly six-fold increase from about 24,000 tons the previous year, while the number of Chinese vessels engaged in chub mackerel fishing quadrupled to 80 from 20, the agency said.

Tokyo has called for greater restrictions, out of fear that if the number of Chinese boats catching chub mackerel on the high seas keeps increasing, stocks of the fish within Japan’s own coastal waters will plunge.

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