Big Step for Bluefin

The UK and France have joined Monaco to push for an international ban on the sale of bluefin tuna. Both countries have said they will back a proposal to add bluefin tuna to CITES (the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species), which would effectively prohibit trade in the species caught in the Mediterranean and Atlantic.

CITES has successfully banned trade in other threatened species, and could possibly rescue the bluefin from the brink of extinction after years of overfishing. Bluefin caught in Mediterranean waters mostly supply the Japanese market, where the fish is highly prized as sushi and sashimi, and selling at up to $100,000 per fish, is the most expensive food on earth.

The ban would bypass the current management of fisheries by ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas), widely criticized for its failure to protect the species.

Support from France, which has the largest bluefin fishing fleet in the Mediterranean, brings real prospect that the fish can be saved. ‘Ours is the last generation with the ability to take action before it’s too late,’ said French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Greenpeace oceans campaigner Willie MacKenzie commented: ‘It’s fantastic the UK is taking such a strong stance on bluefin by backing the listing on CITES, and it’s one that an increasingly-aware British public will welcome. Not only does this show the UK’s understanding of the severity of the problem, but it must compel other countries, notably the US, to follow suit. Bluefin tuna are the blue whales of our time, and have been relentlessly over-exploited for far too long.’

The final decision will be made in March 2010 in Doha, Qatar, requiring a two-thirds majority vote to implement the ban.

Source: The Independent

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