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A joint working group of international fisheries resources management bodies agreed Thursday to increase catch quotas for large Pacific bluefin tuna by 15%.

The international panel adopted the increased catch quotas at an online meeting, which ended the same day, following Japan’s proposal for an expansion. It will be the first time for the catch quotas to be raised.

Observers expected the talks to hit rough waters, as they believed that the United States would reject Japan’s proposal in order to conserve resources.

In this year’s proposal, like last year’s, Japan called for expanding catch quotas by 20% each for bluefin tuna weighing less than 30 kilograms and for heavier tuna.

The international panel, however, rejected Japan’s demand regarding the smaller fish.

With the 15% increase, Japan’s quotas are projected to increase by 732 tons to 5,614 tons for large tuna and remain unchanged at 4,007 tons for smaller fish.

The panel also confirmed that a measure will be extended until 2024 to allow member economies to carry over unused portions of up to 17% of the total quotas into the following year.

Participants also agreed to allot a catch quota of 30 tons for larger tuna to South Korea, which has had no such quota.

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

The meeting was attended by representatives from six economies, including Japan, the United States and Taiwan, according to the Fisheries Agency.

The expansion in catch quotas will officially be decided once it is approved at three international meetings.

Whether an agreement will be reached at all of the meetings is unclear, as many countries will participate in the meetings, said Miwako Takase, councilor of the Fisheries Agency’s Resources Management Department, who represented the Japanese government in the latest meeting.

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