Juvenile tuna catch to be cut by 15% in 2014

An international panel has broadly agreed to cut the juvenile bluefin tuna catch in the Northern Pacific in 2014 by 15 percent from the 2002-2004 average as proposed by Japan, the Japanese government said Thursday.

The broad agreement came as a four-day meeting of a subcommittee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission ended in Fukuoka, the Fisheries Agency said.

Among the nine participants in the subcommittee, South Korea alone withheld support for the agreement, seeking to be exempted from the cut, it said.

The other participants urged South Korea to endorse the proposal before the annual WCPFC conference in December in Australia, where the cut may be finalized.

If South Korea fails to do so, the subcommittee will consider the matter again, the agency said.

Japan proposed the 15 percent cut as the stock of adult bluefin tuna aged 4 year or older dropped to its lowest-ever level in 2010 due to alleged overfishing of younger juvenile tuna. The United States had called for a 25 percent cut.

Japan has accounted for some 60 percent of total bluefin tuna catch in the Northern Pacific and voluntarily implemented a 15 percent cut in its catch from the 2002-2004 average.