Japan to cut bluefin tuna catch in Northern Pacific by half

Japan plans to slash by half the amount of juvenile bluefin tuna taken from the Northern Pacific starting in 2015, compared to the 2002-2004 average, a Fisheries Agency source said Saturday.

The sharp cut may lead to a rise in prices of sashimi at food stores, but the agency placed a high priority on protecting bluefin tuna amid concern about declining stocks.

The move is also aimed at encouraging other nations to adopt massive cuts.

Last December an international conference involving Japan agreed to cut each nation's quota for juvenile bluefin tuna, or fish aged 3 or younger, in 2014 by more than 15 percent from the 2002-2004 average.

But Japanese researchers concluded that Japan's goal of raising bluefin tuna stocks to about 50,000 tons will not be achieved even if each country reduces its catch quota by 15 to 25 percent.

Stocks of bluefin tuna aged 4 or older in the Northern Pacific are estimated at 26,000 tons, according to the agency.

The agency will explain the plan at a meeting of the government's wide area fisheries coordinating committee on Monday.