POLL: Should Japan be sanctioned for exceeding its bluefin tuna quota?

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Conservation groups have called on to abide by international agreements to curb catches of Pacific bluefin after reports said the country was poised to exceed an annual quota two months early – adding to pressure on stocks that have already reached dangerously low levels.

Japan, by far the world’s biggest consumer of Pacific bluefin, has caused “great frustration” with its failure to abide by catch quotas intended to save the species from commercial , said Amanda Nickson, the director of global tuna conservation at Pew Charitable Trusts.

“Just a few years of overfishing will leave Pacific bluefin tuna vulnerable to devastating population reductions,” Nickson said in Tokyo on Monday. “That will threaten not just the fish but also the fishermen who depend on them.”

Decades of overfishing have left the Pacific bluefin population at just 2.6% of its historical high, and campaigners say Japan must take the lead at a summit in South Korea this summer.

Buyers inspect frozen tuna at a wholesale fish market in Tokyo. Photograph: Aflo/Barcroft Images

In 2015, Japan and other members of the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission agreed to curtail catches of immature bluefin, halving the catch of fish under 30kg from the average caught between 2002 and 2004.

But Japanese media reported last week that the country would reach its catch limit for younger tuna for the year through to June two months early.

Some fisheries workers have ignored the restrictions, aware that they will not be punished and can fetch premium prices for Pacific bluefin in Japan, where it is regarded as an important part of the country’s culinary heritage.

Campaigners support the fisheries commission’s aim of rebuilding stocks to at least 20% of unfished levels by 2034 – a target Nickson said was “realistic and attainable”. She said further inaction could revive calls for a two-year commercial moratorium on catching Pacific bluefin.

“No country in the world cares more about the future of tuna than Japan,” she said. “Japan can take the lead, but it must start by committing itself to the 20% rebuilding plan.”

If that fails, she added, “then a full commercial moratorium could be the only feasible course of action”.

Aiko Yamauchi, the leader of the oceans and seafood group for WWF Japan, said it was time to penalise fishermen who violated catch quotas. “The quotas should be mandatory, not voluntary,” Yamauchi said. “That’s why the current agreement hasn’t worked.”

About 80% of the global bluefin catch is consumed in Japan, where it is served raw as sashimi and sushi. A piece of otoro – a fatty cut from the fish’s underbelly – can cost several thousand yen at high-end restaurants in Tokyo.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 24 Apr 2017.

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Should Japan be sanctioned for exceeding its bluefin tuna quota?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop . By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.


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Yes,most definitely. They have been getting away with it for too long.

May Lennox-Milton


Mackie Braden
Mackie Braden

Yes, Japan overfishing and killing whales is indicative of their disregard of all fishing rules. They should be monitored and fined as well.


Spending prohibitive sums on food is a status display among Japan’s elite. Consuming thousands worth of sashimi at lunch accomplishes the same thing as lighting ones cigarettes with $100 bills. This requires rarity, so the rarer the species the better. These people don’t want recovery. Some would pay anything to be the one to consume the last blue fin tuna. No doubt some Japanese billionaires are pushing government to drive these fish to extinction within their lifetime so they can accomplish just that. It’s selfishness defined and that’s what has to change.

Theresa Kemp

You do something wrong you expect some form of punishment equal to the crime. Japan seems to just do what it wants, how it wants, when it wants. They need to see that working as a team is essential for the longevity of creation.

Kalyan Bhattacharyya

This is really disgusting!! why would they have to be called to abide by it why aren’t their asses kicked for not obeying???


Japan has no conscience when it comes to what is right and wrong concerning fishing – they take the Whales indiscriminately and they know it is wrong – they overfish the the Tuna and they really don’t care – they think they are above the law and it is sickening – why shouldn’t they be sanctioned? They are a race of heartless people who thumb their nose at the rest of the world and it needs to stop! Sanction them – Make the rules stick – hold them responsible!

Jennifer Wilkes

I was just reading in the NY Times how the Chinese fleet is scouring the world for fish. Scooping them up in huge nets leaving nothing for the local population to catch and eat. Of course, these small countries don’t have the patrol boats and resources to fight back.

Ama Menec

Japan does need to be shamed by the international community, but also within Japan itself. Traditionally Japan has had no regard for what non Japanese think of it, but it does care about loosing face within Japanese culture. There are many conservationists within Japan and these people need more of a voice in the Japanese media.

Lindsay Leclair


Ron Barnes

In my opinion id wipe them off the map because they only use the excuse of the word traditional .
They should breed millions of fingelings and let them go around japan. but with the Whaleswe need subs to moniter their activities and sink the mother ships and their now navy escourts they use to deter green peace that should have support of the various governments in arears of opperation.

Michele Jankelow

Japan has no respect for any responsible authority on managing the oceans. Surely by this stage some action should be instituted to curb their relentless assault and total disregard for marine species. Why this has not been done is beyond belief! Their arrogance and presumed entitlement to the species of the ocean as they see fit is reprehensible!


Has no world authority the power to punish governments in countries that break rules?