International talks on Pacific bluefin tuna catches began in Kushiro, Hokkaido, on Wednesday, with Japan calling for catch quotas to be drastically increased in light of recovering stocks.

Japan is seeking a 2.31-fold increase in the annual quota in the central and western Pacific for large bluefin tuna weighing 30 kilograms or more, and a 30% increase in that for smaller fish.

In a video message to the talks, fisheries minister Tetsushi Sakamoto said, "It is necessary to increase the quotas to reflect the current situation of tuna stocks."

Currently, the annual quota for large tuna is 7,609 tons, with 5,614 tons allocated to Japan, and that for smaller tuna is 4,725 tons, with 4,007 tons to Japan.

Bluefin tuna is popular in Japan, including as a luxury sushi topping. According to a survey by the Fisheries Agency in 2022, the average wholesale price of refrigerated bluefin tuna was ¥2,700 per kilogram, higher than about ¥1,700 for bigeye tuna and about ¥500 for albacore tuna.

In the Hokkaido city, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission's Northern Committee and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission will hold a joint working group meeting until Saturday, and the Northern Committee will hold a two-day meeting from Monday.

The conferences will draft specific quotas for next year and beyond. The Japanese agency is expected to announce the results as early as Tuesday night.