Greenpeace slams Spain over bluefin tuna

By

Chris Dove, SeafoodSource.com contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
February 10, 2010

Frustrated by Spain’s hard-line stance on bluefin tuna fishing, Greenpeace on Wednesday denounced Spain for pressuring the European Parliament in Brussels not to support an international trade ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna.
 
In a joint statement with conservation groups Ecologists in Action, MarViva, Oceana and the World Wildlife Fund, Celia Ojeda of Greenpeace expressed deep concern that Spain is blocking the proposed ban using questionable tactics, including spreading misinformation about the state of the bluefin tuna industry and ignoring or systematically denying scientific reports revealing the dire state of stocks.

“Barely 10 percent of the original population remains," she said.

Ignoring alarms after decisively losing votes on the Parliament’s Environment Committee, Spanish Euro Deputies representing both the Spanish popular and socialist parties are seeking a series of amendments to the ruling, backed last week by France, Spain’s previous partner in opposing the ban, along with Italy.

“The U-turn by fishing giants France and Italy in favor of the protection of bluefin tuna leaves Spain isolated. The carpet has been stripped from under the feet of the Spanish EU presidency,” said Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace EU oceans policy director.

Last October, the scientific committee of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) concluded that Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks had plummeted between 85 percent and 90 percent, complying with key criteria for its inclusion in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
 
Supported by the World Food and Agriculture Organization in December and reiterated by the CITES secretariat in Geneva last week, Greenpeace claimed that Spain cannot make contrary interpretations of Appendix I by slating the scientific reports.
 
In 2008, Greenpeace accused Spain of underreporting its bluefin tuna catch and “cavalierly questioning the validity” of catch analysis and calculation methodologies.

The proposed ban is scheduled to come to a vote at the CITES triennial conference in Qatar from 13 to 25 March. There, Spain will present its position on the matter amid increasing isolation from the UK, Germany and Sweden in the run-up to the conference.

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