An unprecedented action plan to reverse the decline in global tuna stocks was expected to be adopted Friday as delegates wrapped up a tuna conservation summit in Japan.
The plan was approved in principle by the five global regulatory bodies meeting in the western city of Kobe, Kyodo News agency reported Thursday, citing unidentified conference officials. Delegates were expected to adopt the plan Friday.
The plan calls for closer communication between the organizations, especially in sharing data on illegal fishing and tuna stock assessment, Kyodo reported. The plan also recommends establishing an international high seas inspection team.
Under the plan, the groups will clamp down on poaching by harmonizing a trade tracking program that will improve documentation of the world's catch through electronic tagging, Kyodo said.
Japanese Fisheries Agency official Takaaki Sakamoto said officials were still working on the draft action plan and couldn't comment on its content. The agency said participants are focusing on sustainable use of tuna resources.
Overfishing and poaching are largely to blame for tumbling stocks worldwide, conservationists say.
By 2004, for example, the number of adult Atlantic bluefin tuna capable of spawning had plummeted to roughly 19 percent of the 1975 level in the western half of the ocean, according to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
Japan's role as host to the Kobe conference is highly symbolic as the country is a major tuna consumer, accounting for 12 percent of the 2.06 million ton global catch. Japanese eat about a quarter of the world's supply of the five big species: bluefin, southern bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin and albacore.
Representatives from the commercial fishing industry, environmental groups and government regulators are discussing ways to strengthen information sharing and cooperation among regional organizations to track and manage tuna stocks.