Bluefin tuna will remain unprotected following a decision taken at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting last Thursday, when 72 of the of the 129 member nations voted against a proposed trade ban. Gathered in Doha, Qatar, representatives of those voting against the ban said they feared it would devastate the world’s fishing economies, while those in favor say the result puts the species in immediate danger of extinction and raises new fears for the future of dwindling stocks.
The ban was proposed by Monaco in July 2009, who argued that only extreme measures could save bluefin stocks, which have been driven down to 15% of their historical levels by widespread overfishing. Bluefin caught in Mediterranean waters mostly supply the Japanese market, where the fish is highly prized as sushi and sashimi and sells at up to $100,000 per fish.
Campaigners including conservation groups Greenpeace and WWF have condemned the failure of governments to agree on any measure to protect the species. “The abject failure of governments at CITES to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna spells disaster for its future and sets the species on a pathway to extinction,” said Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Oliver Knowles. “It would mean ‘business as usual’ for those whose only interest in the species is short–term profit”.
Opponents to the decision have complained that Libya’s move during the meeting to cut the debate short and force convention delegates to an early vote greatly harmed the outcome. “After overwhelming scientific justification and growing political support in past months, with backing from the majority of catch quota holders on both sides of the Atlantic, it is scandalous that governments did not even get the chance to engage in meaningful debate,” said Dr Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries at WWF Mediterranean.
Campaign groups are now calling on the public to take the initiative to boycott bluefin tuna with or without political action. “It is now more important than ever for people to do what the politicians failed to do, to stop consuming bluefin tuna,” urged Dr. Tudela. WWF reported it would now increase calls for retailers, restaurants, chefs and consumers around the world to stop selling, serving, buying and eating the endangered fish.
Source: The Independant, The Guardian,