TOKYO -- Japan's Fisheries Agency will set up a national system in July to oversee fixed-net fishing of the threatened Pacific bluefin tuna, aiming to stem a decline in stocks.
Japan accounts for about 80% of global consumption of Pacific bluefin, which is prized as a high-end sushi ingredient. Bluefin populations have fallen by half in the Pacific Ocean over the past decade. Japan has imposed regional catch limits, dividing its waters into six zones with separate quotas for each.
Set-net and purse seine fishing are among the methods used to catch bluefin tuna in coastal areas. Fixed nets can catch several fish species at once, and results depend heavily on environmental conditions. A single set net can yield large catches, making stock management tougher.
The Fisheries Agency's new system will manage nationwide set-net catch volumes, including by establishing fishing seasons for each prefecture. Moratoriums will be requested for heavily fished areas. The agency will ask each prefecture to participate, with 17 in northern and northwestern Japan having already agreed to sign on.