The Pacific bluefin tuna is at risk of becoming commercially extinct. Overfishing has depleted stocks of the fish by an estimated 97%. Now the principle tuna-fishing nations have reached an agreement to gradually rebuild the depleted stocks, while still allowing Japan, by far the largest consumer of the bluefin, to continue to catch and consume the highly prized fish. Japan eats 80 percent of the $42 billion global haul of bluefin and had resisted restrictions on the fishery.
As reported by the Washington Post: At the week-long meeting in Busan, South Korea, the two bodies charged with shared management of Pacific bluefin — the northern committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission — hammered out a plan to try to put the fish back on a path to sustainability. Countries represented at the meeting included the United States, Canada, China, South Korea and Japan.
At the meeting, the two organizations agreed to a target to rebuild tuna stocks to 20 percent of historic levels by 2034, the minimum level that scientists consider necessary to protect the species.
Proponents of limits hailed the deal as a compromise that everyone could live with.
“It’s definitely a good first step towards the recovery of the species,” said James Gibbon, global tuna conservation officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts. “But it is only the first step. There are a lot of commitments that the countries agreed to, and we need to make sure they stick to them.”