By Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Japan yesterday agreed to cut its quota of Atlantic bluefin tuna by almost a quarter over the next four years, in the latest attempt to save the fish from commercial extinction.
Environmental groups said Japan's huge appetite for the raw delicacy is largely to blame for numbers falling to dangerous levels, and warned that growing demand from other countries would increase the threat to world tuna stocks.
Japan has agreed to cut its quota by about 23% from 2006 levels to about 2,175 tonnes in 2010. The overall tuna catch in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean will fall by about a fifth from 32,000 tonnes to 25,500 tonnes under an agreement reached last autumn by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
Conservation groups claimed that the measures did not go far enough, but officials in Japan, which consumes more than half the global bluefin catch, said they would help maintain stocks while avoiding dramatic price rises.