Europe makes progress on bluefin tuna ban

10 September 2009
Europe makes progress on bluefin tuna ban

Europe has united in support of a campaign to save bluefin tuna from over-fishing.

After reaching a compromise deal with opponents of the fishing ban in Brussels, the European Commission pledged its support to get the fish listed as an endangered species, while waiting for evidence on the latest population numbers.

The move, prompted by EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg changing his stance on the issue, is likely to see the 27 EU member vote in favour of a proposal to protect bluefin tuna under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. If this is approved by a majority of 175 nations internationally it would result in the ban of all international trade in the fish.

The move, which is significant because of the previously fragmented stance from Europe (with France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria in favour of a complete trade ban and resistance from Malta, Spain and Italy) has been welcomed by environmentalists.

The EC said in a statement: "Given that the European Commission services share many of the concerns expressed by Monaco about the state of the stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna, they consider that the Community could provisionally co-sponsor the proposal by Monaco requesting the listing of BFT in Cites Appendix I."

Tony Long, director of WWF in Brussels, welcomed the move. "Commissioners Dimas and Borg have made the right choice, leading the EU to heed urgent scientific advice that Atlantic bluefin tuna is dangerously close to collapse and needs a break," he told the Independent](

Willie Mackenzie of Greenpeace, added: "Today's move doesn't mean that this fish is saved yet. Member states still need to agree to support this ban, and follow the lead of countries like the UK."

In June London restaurant Nobu was boycotted by celebrities who criticised the restaurant's refusal to remove bluefin tuna from its menu.

By Rosie Birkett

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