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Int'l scientific committee calls for cutting bluefin tuna catch

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

An international scientific committee on tuna stocks has compiled a report calling for a cut in the Pacific bluefin tuna catch and other measures to improve stocks, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

It is the first time that the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean has called for a cut in the Pacific bluefin tuna catch.

The report will be used by Japan and other countries to decide on specific measures by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission within this year.

The WCPFC is expected to introduce tough regulations that would greatly affect Japan, which accounted for 75 percent of the Pacific bluefin tuna catch in 2011.

The ISC report indicates the spawning stock biomass of Pacific bluefin tuna in 2010 may have fallen to around 20,000 tons, the lowest level ever.

It also says, "The unusually small amount of catch in the troll fishery in 2012 may be a sign of very low recruitment, similar to that observed in the 1980s."

Based on the data, the report says "extending the status quo (2007-2009) fishing levels is unlikely to improve stock status."

"Further reduction of fishing mortality, especially for juvenile fish, is needed to reduce the risk of SSB falling below its historically lowest level," it added.

In Japan, the Fisheries Agency has asked relevant fishing groups to introduce voluntary measures to control stock status. But no effective measures have been taken.

The WCPFC has produced a tentative agreement to prevent fishing capacity from being increased from 2002-2004 levels. But it has fallen short of setting any catch quotas.

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/130806/intl-scientific-committee-calls-cutting-bluefin-tuna-c