Atlantic bluefin tuna trade ban fails | WWF
Atlantic bluefin tuna trade ban fails

Posted on 18 March 2010

Discussion of a long-awaited proposal to ban international commercial trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna was cut short today at the largest wildlife trade convention when an immediate vote was pushed through.
Doha, Qatar – Discussion of a long-awaited proposal to ban international commercial trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna was cut short today at the largest wildlife trade convention when an immediate vote was pushed through.

Member governments of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) chose to vote today on the proposal. 72 out of 129 CITES members voted against the trade ban, 43 voted in favour, with 14 abstentions.

“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 about the international trade ban proposal for Atlantic bluefin tuna,” said Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries at WWF Mediterranean and observer at the CITES Conference of the Parties in Doha.

Once the Principality of Monaco had tabled the proposal this afternoon and a number of countries had given brief interventions, Libya called for an immediate vote on the proposal.

“The regional fisheries management organization in charge of this fishery – the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, ICCAT – has repeatedly failed to sustainably manage this fishery,” said Dr Tudela. “ICCAT has so far failed miserably in this duty so every pressure at the highest level must come to bear to ensure it does what it should.”

WWF will proactively call on restaurants, retailers, chefs and consumers around the world to stop selling, serving, buying and eating this endangered species. Already a growing body of the global seafood market sector is choosing to avoid Atlantic bluefin tuna to give the exhausted fish stocks a chance of recovery – including such groups as Carrefour Europe.

“It is now more important than ever for people to do what the politicians failed to do – stop consuming bluefin tuna,” Dr Tudela said.

The Principality of Monaco – the CITES member country that submitted the proposal for a CITES Appendix I listing of the species – became last year the first country in the world to be entirely bluefin tuna free. WWF is urging other countries to follow suit.

Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus)
© WWF / Manu San Félix