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Vanuatu to consider adjusting bluefin tuna catch limits

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Japan hopes to appease both the fisheries industry and the country’s environmentally conscious peers this week with its proposal to adjust the catch limits for Pacific bluefin tuna depending on progress toward reaching a crucial conservation goal.

Vanuatu is one of ten countries to consider Japan’s proposal on bluefin tuna catch limits, reports Asian Review. Other countries are Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, U.S., Canada, Fiji, the Philippines and the Cook Islands.

The authority governing Pacific bluefin tuna fisheries meets Monday through Friday in Busan, South Korea. The Northern Committee of the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission will weigh changes to a conservation plan that aims to increase the stock of spawning bluefin tuna to 41,000 tons by 2024.

The targeted figure is the estimated median size of that population between 1952 and 2014, a year when spawning stock was pegged as having declined to a mere 17,000 tons or so.

Hard limits currently exist on how much bluefin may be caught each year. Japan proposes adjusting those caps based on progress toward the 41,000-ton target. If the probability of reaching that goal in 2024 is seen as less than 60%, stricter fishing limits would take effect. But the cap could be loosened if the probability surpassed 65%.

The surveys used to determine these probabilities would be conducted annually, rather than every two years as they are now.

Tokyo’s plan aims to please conservation-minded European and American nations while addressing the interests of Japanese fishers, who generally oppose stricter limits. Japan, the world’s top bluefin catcher and consumer, “needs restrictions to be realistic,” an official at Japan’s Fisheries Agency said.