April 26, 2017 — Japan is on track to meet its annual Pacific bluefin tuna quota two months early, frustrating activists trying to protect the species from overfishing.
Japan, where bluefin tuna is considered a delicacy, consumes significantly more of the fish than any other country. But its quota for the year ending in June 2017 is likely to be reached as early as this month.
Despite the country’s aggressive approach to fishing, bluefin tuna isn’t cheap. At Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish auction, a 467-pound bluefin tuna sold for 74.7m yen ($700,000) in January.
The seemingly insatiable appetite for the tuna is causing concern among conservationists. Amanda Nickson, director of global tuna conservation at Pew Charitable Trusts, said Japan is irresponsible in its approach to bluefin tuna fishing, The Guardian reported.
“Just a few years of overfishing will leave Pacific bluefin tuna vulnerable to devastating population reductions. That will threaten not just the fish but also the fishermen who depend on them,” Nickson told The Guardian on Monday.
Overfishing has already caused the Pacific bluefin population to fall by 97 percent.
In 2015, Japan and other members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission agreed to reduce their catch of immature bluefin.