• Kyodo

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Wrapping up a five-day meeting in Kyushu on Friday, an international fisheries panel deferred an agreement to invoke emergency fishing restrictions for bluefin tuna in the northern Pacific amid concerns that the species is dwindling due to overfishing.

Japan had proposed invoking a catch limit for two years if the stock of tuna younger than 1 year old remained at a low level for three straight years.

But participants at a subcommittee meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in the city of Fukuoka failed to reach an agreement on the proposal due to strong U.S. opposition, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

The panel was discussing details of the envisioned catch limit with an eye to reaching a formal accord by the end of the year. The agreement will now be carried over to next year.

Japan is a major consumer of bluefin tuna, which is a prized delicacy served as sushi.

Last year, the commission agreed to compile emergency measures to deal with a sharp decline in tuna stocks. Details were to be worked out this year.

Based on the 2016 assessment of bluefin tuna stock, parent fish totaled about 17,000 tons in 2014, remaining near a historic low of around 11,000 tons in 1984.

To protect the bluefin tuna in the Pacific, the commission tightened international limits in 2015, halving the catches of tuna weighing less than 30 kg from the 2002-2004 average level.

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