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Japan battles illicit tuna fishing; kind of

Authorities not sure what to protect: bluefin or an industry

The Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo received 40% more shipments of bluefin tuna caught by Japanese fleets in 2016 than it did in 2011, before fishing restrictions began.

TOKYO -- Japan's Fisheries Agency is in a quandary. Parts of the country's fishing fleet is violating restrictions on Pacific bluefin tuna catches. So how can it come down hard on violators and still protect the country's fishing industry?

In 2014, the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which manages tuna stocks in the western and central areas of the Pacific Ocean, including waters off Japan, established a rule for conserving marine resources. The commission agreed to more than halve catches of juvenile bluefin tuna weighing less than 30kg from the annual average levels from 2002 through 2004 and keep adult fish catches below those levels.

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