The European commission has backed a campaign to ban trade in the endangered species, which would allow fish stocks to begin recovery in 2010. The European commission today threw its support behind a campaign to outlaw trade in endangered bluefin tuna, meaning that efforts to rebuild stocks of the species could begin next year.
At a meeting in Brussels, the commissionagreed to support Monaco , in its attempt to have the fish listed internationally as an endangered species.
The commission said, however, that it would take further scientific advice on the matter, before a final decision next March and would also put the issue before EU members states in a fortnight.
Although a complete ban on trade in bluefin tuna is supported by EU member states such as Germany, France, Britain and several others, the move could yet be opposed by the big players in Mediterranean fishing: Spain, Italy, and Malta, the centre of the European bluefin industry.
It is great news that the commission is showing its support for the proposal to give bluefin tuna the highest form of protection, which the UK is backing strongly ,Joe Borg, the fisheries commissioner who is Maltese and had resisted the move as recently as last week. And the recommendations reflect the grave concern that the commission shares on the state of bluefin tuna.
f the 27 countries in the EU vote as a bloc next March at a session of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), there should be a majority for a global ban on bluefin tuna trading. “If agreed, the Cites’ vote in March 2010 would result in a ban on international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna,” said the commission.
The depleted stocks of the fish in the Mediterranean have hit almost extinction levels, according to experts, with bluefin tuna thought to below 18% of the total in 1970.
“As a result of both legal and illegal catches, over the past decades the species has experienced a sharp decline and its conversation status is now very poor,” according to the commission.
Stocks of the fish were decimated throughout the 1990s. Around 80% of the bluefin tuna caught in the Mediterranean is exported to Japan for conversion into sushi after the fish have been fattened for several months in European fish farms.
Bluefin tuna has become endangered because of disgraceful fisheries management in the EU. The suspension of trade is a last resort and it merely buys the EU time to put its fisheries management in order.