Doha, Qatar — In a stunningly shortsighted decision, Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species defeated a motion by the Principality of Monaco to protect the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna by a disappointing vote of 20 in favor, 68 against, with 30 abstentions.
“The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna suffers from overexploitation in legal trade and significant illegal, unregulated and underreported fishing,” noted Species Survival Network President Will Travers. “Where is the precautionary principle? Where are the visionaries? Will CITES really wait until the species is commercially extinct before they act? Shame.”
Led by Japan, country after country — many from the small island States whose fishing economies rely on trade with the Far East — lined up to condemn the proposal as prejudicial to their economic development. Only a handful of nations seemed aware of how serious the implications of continued trade could be. For example, in 2007, while the recommended maximum global catch size was 15,000 tonnes, the actual take was just under 30,000 tonnes.
The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is detrimentally affected by massive international trade, including illegal trade, largely to satisfy demand for sushi and sashimi markets in Japan. If the trend in estimated annual catch rates of between 44,948 tonnes and 61,000 tonnes (2004 through 2007) continues, this could simply wipe out remaining stocks. The prospects for recovery are bleak.
“The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is particularly vulnerable to overexploitation because it is a late maturing, low productivity species, with two to three years between spawnings,” Travers added. “We must give tuna a reprieve from overfishing or I fear we will have served up extinction on a plate.”
Adam M. Roberts, SSN Press Officer
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