The European Commission has followed the European Parliament by agreeing to support the listing of bluefin tuna under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but on several conditions.

The European Commission has followed the European Parliament by agreeing to support the listing of bluefin tuna under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but on several conditions.

Subsequent to the European Parliament’s adoption of a resolution in favor of listing bluefin tuna under Appendix I of CITES on 10 February, the European Commission has now presented a similar stance by having brought forward a proposal for a Council Decision to add bluefin tuna to the CITES Appendix I on the 22nd February.

Effectively, inclusion of a species on CITES Appendix I equates to a complete ban on trading of that species.

However, in its proposal, the Commission makes the listing of bluefin tuna subject to some stringent conditions: conditions that not only might delay a full ban coming into effect, but also threaten bluefin tuna stocks until a ban is imposed.

Firstly, the Commission has not called for an immediate ban but rather one that should come into effect after the November 2010 ICCAT meeting.

Secondly, before the ban is to come into effect, the Commission has asked for the CITES Standing Committee to consider the most recent scientific advice, when assessing the outcome of the meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, in November 2010.

Lastly, if the ban is to come into force, the Commission insists in its proposal that artisanal fishing firms should be allowed to continue supplying the EU market with catches from the domestic waters of EU member states.

The Proposal will now be discussed between the 27 EU member states on the 1st and 2nd March, with the aim to come to a common position for the CITES meeting that will take place in Doha from the 13-25 March.

Only the member states of Cyprus and Malta still firmly oppose the ban.

For the actual inclusion of bluefin tuna to the CITES Appendix, the backing of two thirds of the 175 CITES member countries present at the next CITES meeting is required. It is very much questionable whether the conditional proposal of the Commission is acceptable under the terms of CITES.

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