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EU Backs total ban on bluefin tuna trade to stave off species collapse

10/09/2009 15:07:34

Bluefin Tuna - Massively overexploited. Photo credit Brian J Skerry/National Geographic Images.

European Commission backs bluefin tuna trade ban - WWF urges EU member states to follow

September 2009. The European Commission has given its backing to a suspension of international trade in endangered Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna - expressing grave concern regarding the status of the species, which is under threat of collapse from commercial overexploitation. WWF welcomes the decision and now urges European Union national governments to follow this lead.

Proposed listing on CITES appendix 1
The European Commission - led by Commissioners for the Environment (Stavros Dimas) and for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs (Joe Borg) - agreed on a proposal to European Union Member States to co-sponsor with the Principality of Monaco a listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This would temporarily ban all international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna, and give the endangered species a chance of recovery.

"Commissioners Dimas and Borg have made the right choice leading the EU to heed urgent scientific advice that Atlantic bluefin tuna is dangerously close to collapse and needs a break," said Tony Long, Director of WWF's European Policy Office in Brussels. "Some EU Member States have already joined the call to temporarily ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin - and WWF now urges other countries to follow the European Commission's lead and back the trade suspension."

EU countries will decide whether to accept or reject this proposal by the European Commission at a meeting on 21 September of the CITES Management Committee. The EU votes en bloc at CITES, whose next Conference of the Parties is in Doha, Qatar in March 2010.

The European Commission's Directorate General for the Environment had recommended in August, in a draft report, that "from a scientific and technical point of view, the criteria for the listing of Atlantic bluefin tuna appear to be met. There is no doubt about the link between international trade and overexploitation of the species."

Massive overfishing
Atlantic bluefin tuna has been subject to decades of massive overfishing and overexploitation, plagued by illegal takes and blatant disregard for scientific advice. Suspending trade through a CITES Appendix I listing will give the fish a chance to recover. WWF hopes to see a sustainably managed, thriving fishery around the Mediterranean again in the years to come.


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