Bluefin tuna ban struck down

A proposal to ban the international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna was rejected on Thursday at an international wildlife summit in Doha, Qatar.

Only the United States, Norway and Kenya supported outright a proposal set forth last year by Monaco to the 175-nation Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Monaco had sought an Appendix I listing for the species, which would have suspended exporting.

The measure was defeated after scores of poor fishing nations joined Japan and Canada in opposing the measure, which they argued would devastate their fishing communities.

The European Union asked for a delay in the implementation until May 2011 to allow for extra time to respond to their fishermen’s concerns. Bluefin tuna populations in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea have fallen by as much as 75 percent in recent years due to overfishing.

Japan had previously stated that it would take a reservation if the trade ban passed and continue to import the species.

Approximately 80 percent of all bluefin tuna landed in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea ends up in Japan to supply its sushi and sashimi restaurants. Bluefin tuna is one of the most sought-after seafood species, both in Japan and around the world, largely for the high price that it fetches from wholesalers and distributors.

In November, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) voted to set the 2010 eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna quota at 13,500 metric tons, down from 22,000 metric tons in 2009 and 28,500 metric tons in 2008. The regional fishery management organization has 48 member nations.

Numerous environmental organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and Oceana, strongly opposed ICCAT’s quota because they say it was not based on scientific advice.

“In a clear win by short-term economic interest over the long-term health of the ocean and the rebuilding of Atlantic bluefin tuna populations and fishery, CITES today voted to deny prohibition of the international trade of the species,” said Oceana in a statement.


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