An international conservation commission has issued a report projecting that the total allowable catch for bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea could be raised by 50 percent from the current level by 2020, a Japanese government agency said Thursday.
Taking the estimate as a sign of improving stocks of the fish, which have been threatened by overfishing, Japan plans to ask for an increased national quota at a regular meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas to be held in Morocco in November, the Fisheries Agency said.
The total allowable catch is currently set at about 23,000 tons per year, with the biggest quota, of around 13,000 tons, allocated to the European Union. Japan’s quota is 1,900 tons.
In a report on the meeting of the commission’s Standing Committee on Research and Statistics, the organization said it is possible the total allowable catch could expand to 36,000 tons by 2020.
Japan is known to consume about 80 percent of the world’s bluefin tuna.
In 2015, 45,550 tons of bluefin tuna, including imports, were put on sale in the domestic market. Of the total, 40 percent was Atlantic bluefin tuna and the remaining portion was Pacific bluefin. The agency hopes that an increased national quota would bring down prices.
Catching small bluefin tuna weighing less than 30 kg in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea has been banned in principle since 2007.
The total allowable catch was set at 22,000 tons in 2009 but was cut to 13,500 tons in 2010 and to 12,900 tons in 2011 and 2012.