August 24, 2009

EU Protection For Bluefin Tuna?

A spokeswoman said Saturday that the European Union (EU) will decide in the autumn whether to add bluefin tuna to a list of threatened species, a move that would put a temporary ban on selling the fish species in world markets.

"An EU position will be established this autumn, in line with the normal process for the preparation of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) meeting," said the European Commission spokeswoman, Katharina von Schnurbein.

She said the existence of an internal document prepared by the commission recommends putting bluefin tuna on the list of threatened species. 

The Financial Times revealed the draft document Saturday, which will form the basis of discussions between the 27 EU member nations.

"From a scientific and technical point of view, the criteria for the listing of Atlantic bluefin tuna (as an endangered species) appear to be met," the newspaper cited the document as saying.

"There is no doubt about the link between international trade and over-exploitation of the species."

However, the commission stipulated that any decision on a ban would not be made before the end of the 2010 fishing season. 

The paper reported that a common position would be difficult to find with some fishing nations like Spain, Italy and Malta remaining lukewarm to the idea of a ban.

"The commission has taken note of the individual positions expressed by some member states supporting the listing of bluefin tuna under the Cites convention," Von Schnurbein said.

"However it is clear that internal coordination is still to come on this issue."

Schnurbein said the EU would work with all member states "towards the establishment of a common EU position" before the Cites meeting in March 2010.

Bluefin tuna has no protection under Cites, which is the only global body that has the power to limit or ban international trade in endangered species.

If bluefin tuna are given a protected status at the meeting in Qatar next March, then the sale of the fish on international markets would be banned, although it could still be sold locally.

This measure would eliminate the strong demand for the delicacy as sushi and sashimi in countries like Japan and the U.S.

France, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands have all said they support the ban.


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