Japan opposes plans to list the Atlantic bluefin tuna, which is highly prized in sushi and sashimi, as a most-endangered species and to ban its international trade, an official said on Monday.
The UN-backed wildlife trade agency supports a call to stop cross-border trade in the fish when 175 member nations to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meet next month in Doha, Qatar.
Marine wildlife experts say that, despite fishing quotas, bluefin tuna stocks have plunged by 80 percent in recent decades in the Western Atlantic and Mediterranean, threatening the predator species with extinction.
Japan will not join in any agreement to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna under the United Nations treaty on endangered species, the country’s top fisheries negotiator said.
The negotiator, Masanori Miyahara, said in a telephone interview this week that Japan “would have no choice but to take a reservation” — in effect, to ignore the ban and leave its market open to continued imports — if the bluefin tuna were granted most-endangered species status.
“It’s a pity,” he said, “but it’s a matter of principle.”