EC mulls over bluefin trade ban


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
August 26, 2009

Within the next week, the European Commission will decide whether or not to support a temporary ban on international trade of Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna.

On Friday, the EC will meet internally to discuss a proposal for a joint position to be adopted by the European Union at a meeting of the General Assembly of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauns and Flora (CITES). The EC will collect feedback on the proposal from EU countries.

Several EU countries — including France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria — have already expressed support for a proposal submitted by Monaco in July to list Atlantic bluefin tuna on CITES Appendix I, which would effectively ban international trade of the species.

However, on Wednesday, the Malta government voiced its opposition to the proposal because it cannot afford to lose its bluefin tuna fishing industry, which is valued at EUR 100 million annually.

If the ban is approved, fishermen would not be able to sell the bluefin tuna on the international market, although they could continue to sell it domestically. The idea is to remove demand for sushi and sashimi in countries like Japan in an effort to prevent overfishing.

“It would be scandalous if the EC were to allow the region’s most emblematic marine species associated with a thousand-year-old fishing tradition to go extinct on its watch,” said Tony Long, WWF European Policy Office director. “This would be a shameful legacy for the Barroso Commission. They must back the proposal to temporarily ban international trade.”

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