France has agreed to back a ban on the global trade of bluefin tuna to protect the endangered species from overfishing.
The country said it wants a ban to allow scientists time to study the data on tuna stocks. However, it demanded an 18-month delay to the implementation of the ban.
The shift to get bluefin tuna added to the list compiled by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) is being led by Monaco, with Italy also having pledged its support.
"It was a difficult but necessary decision," said Jean-Louis Borloo, France's environment minister.
However, environmentalists slammed France's demand for the 18-month delay to the implementation of the ban.
"The government, and Nicolas Sarkozy in particular, are pretending to be the saviours of bluefin tuna," said FranÁ§ois Chartier of Greenpeace France. "In fact, they are telling us: 'Let's save the species, but not just yet'."
Last year, top French chefs including Olivier Roellinger pledged to keep bluefin tuna and other threatened fish species off the menu, whatever the cost.
By Kerstin KÁ¼hn
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