Europe remains weak on tuna conservation, rest of world must respond
At a meeting yesterday of the EU’s Management Committee for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), EU Member State representatives forged a position on the recent European Commission opinion that Atlantic bluefin tuna meets the requirements to be listed on CITES Appendix I to restrict international trade – and the recommendation that the EU should formally back such a listing proposal. Yesterday 21 EU countries came out in favour of the proposal but formal EU backing was blocked by just six Mediterranean states against – discarding the advice of European Commission environment and fisheries experts.
“It is once again large-scale Mediterranean fishing interests trying to gang up against the long-term survival of Atlantic bluefin tuna and the industry this incredible species has sustained for thousands of years,” said Aaron McLoughlin, Head of WWF’s European Marine Programme.
“Such a short-sighted and unambitious stance from the Mediterranean EU Member States against marine conservation is disappointing.”
The Principality of Monaco announced in July its intention to submit a proposal to list Atlantic bluefin tuna on CITES Appendix I but any other country can choose to co-sponsor the listing proposal with Monaco.
255 out 345 votes in Council are needed to secure support for the Commission’s proposal. Reaching this qualified majority, or 74% of the total vote in favour, is a high threshold to secure the EU’s block vote at CITES. EU Environment Ministers will need to reconsider the proposal in October or December at an Environment Council.
EU countries, while each being a separate Contracting Party to CITES, vote en bloc at CITES meetings.
“WWF is calling on other CITES Contracting Parties to stand up for what the European Commission has accepted as necessary – that global trade in endangered Atlantic bluefin must be urgently halted until it is clearly on the road to recovery,” continued McLoughlin.
“After all, how can anyone enjoy contributing to extinction by buying, selling, cooking or eating a fish whose days are clearly numbered? Enough is enough.”
The next CITES Conference of the Parties takes place in Doha, Qatar, in March 2010, when the 175 member countries will vote on trade ban listing proposals. Any such proposals must be received by the CITES secretariat before 14 October in order to be put up for consideration in Doha.
Notes to editor
• Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain do not support the CITES Appendix I listing of Atlantic bluefin.
• Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK are all in favour of the Atlantic bluefin tuna trade ban proposal.
For more information
Aaron McLoughlin, WWF European Policy Programme
Mobile: +32 472 948 317
Gemma Parkes, WWF Mediterranean
Tel: +39 346 387 3237