The formal adoption by the Council of the European Union to support a trade ban on bluefin tuna was a positive move, but severly weakened by the conditions that came with it. The EU position is an important factor in negotiations next week on a global ban on the trade of this heavily endangered species.

The formal adoption by the Council of the European Union to support a trade ban on bluefin tuna was a positive move, but severly weakened by the conditions that came with it. The EU position is an important factor in negotiations next week on a global ban on the trade of this heavily endangered species.

Just earlier this week, all 27 members of the European Union agreed to the European Commission’s proposal to support a listing of Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Today, the Council affirmed this position.

Such a listing under Appendix I would mean a full international trade ban of the fish, as is the case for numerous other endangered species.

However, despite the positive news of the EU supporting the listing – and likewise the support given last month by the European Parliament – there are several disappointing conditions that have been put on such a ban.

Indeed, instead of supporting an immediate, complete and worldwide ban, the Ministers agreed only to ban industrial fishing of bluefin tuna sometime in the future; and only once it has been proven again that bluefin tuna is indeed on its way to extinction.

Even more concerning, the Commission’s proposal asserts that EU artisanal fisheries should be allowed to continue supplying the EU market with catches from the domestic waters of EU member states. This is a heightened concern because, according to sources, due to the imprecise definition of artisanal fisheries, these catches could account for anywhere between 10 – 40% of the trade taking place at present.

Maja Dittel of Seas At Risk commented: “EU support for the listing of bluefin tuna at the CITES meeting is vital. However, a problem now might result from the conditions insisted upon by the EU. This essentially changes the rules concerning how CITES operates and it is very much questionable whether such conditions are acceptable under the terms of CITES.”

The 15th CITES meeting runs from 13-25 March in Doha, Qatar. In order to secure a trade ban, the CITES rules stipulate that two thirds of the 175 member countries have to agree on the listing under Appendix I.

Seas At Risk is an association of non-governmental environmental organisations working to protect and restore to health seas within the European Union, the wider North East Atlantic and the greater marine environment.

Share This

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required