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A joint working group of international fisheries resources management bodies kicked off an online meeting on Tuesday to discuss measures to manage Pacific bluefin tuna resources.

Japan has proposed for the fourth year in a row to increase bluefin tuna catch quotas, arguing that fish stocks are recovering.

Talks at the meeting, which will be held until Thursday, are expected to hit rough waters, as the United States is seen rejecting Japan’s proposal based on its argument that bluefin tuna resources need to be protected.

The meeting is held by the joint working group comprising members from the Northern Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.

The WCPFC Northern Committee consists of Japan, the United States, Taiwan and seven other economies. The IATTC is made up of 21 members, including Japan, the United States and Mexico.

Japan’s proposal for higher catch quotas has been rejected in the last three years.

This year’s proposal, like last year’s, calls for expanding catch quotas by 20% each for bluefin tuna weighing less than 30 kilograms and for larger tuna.

If the proposal is adopted, Japan’s quotas are projected to increase by 801 tons to 4,808 tons for small fish and by 976 tons to 5,858 tons for larger ones.

According to the latest Pacific bluefin tuna resource appraisal report released last year by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean, the volume of adult bluefin tuna stocks stood at around 28,000 tons in 2018, logging a 2.6-fold increase from 2010, when such stocks hit a record low.

Last year, Japan called for larger catch quotas based on the resource assessment. But the United States turned down the proposal as it claimed bluefin tuna stocks were still scarce.

As the next resource appraisal will be conducted in 2022, it is unlikely that the United States will soften its position, observers said.

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