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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Japan Mulls Restrictions on Bluefin Catches in Its Waters

TOKYO -- Japan is mulling imposing restrictions on bluefin tuna catches in its waters in a bid to forestall a decline in numbers of the much-prized delicacy, a newspaper said Sunday.

The country's fisheries agency plans to form a committee next month that will make recommendations on restrictions, Japan's business daily The Nikkei said, citing unidentified agency officials.

Japan currently has no restrictions on bluefin tuna fishing in its waters, a situation the agency believes could lead to a rapid decline in stocks of the fish, the paper said. The agency does not currently have any scientific data that shows there numbers of the fish are falling, it added.

The committee -- to include individuals connected with the commercial fishing industry, officials from coastal areas and others -- is likely to discuss imposing size restrictions to allow younger fish to mature, the paper said.

Phones rang unanswered at the fisheries agency Sunday.

Bluefin tuna stocks have been tumbling worldwide, a situation conservationists blame on overfishing and poaching.

In January, worldwide regulators meeting in Japan adopted a plan aimed at slowing the decline in global tuna stocks by reining in illegal fishing, controlling the growth of fleets and sharing data on stock assessments.

In October, Japan promised to halve its quota for the southern bluefin tuna as compensation for overfishing, but denied it had surpassed the quota on purpose.