Japan will oppose a proposed global trade ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna, which has won EU and US backing ahead of an international conference, the top government spokesman said Thursday.
"Basically, the Washington Convention's purpose is to protect endangered species from extinction, but I don't think bluefin tuna faces such a situation," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano, referring to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
"Japan will claim its unchanged position that resource control should take place" instead of a trade ban, he said ahead of the March 13-25 meeting of CITES member countries, and a day after the European Union backed a ban.
The trade ban, meant to save the species from extinction, also has the support of the United States but is unpopular in Japan, which consumes three quarters of the global catch of bluefin, much prized for sushi and sashimi.
|Fishermen are seen hauling out tuna after a catch in southern Spain|
Last week the Japanese vice fisheries minister, Masahiko Yamada, said that "Japan will inevitably have to take a reservation" if the body votes for a trade ban at the meeting in the Qatari capital Doha.
Member countries that take a "reservation" would effectively be able to keep trading with other nations that also opt out of the ban.