A worldwide ban on the trade in the endangered bluefin tuna has moved a step closer after France pledged its support.
Bluefin tuna for sale at a fish market in Japan
In a significant move the French said they would support the listing of bluefin tuna under appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) but with conditions.
French environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo and fisheries minister Bruno Le Maire said they want an 18-month delay before the measures come into force. In return for its support France is also likely to seek an exclusive fishing zone for line-caught tuna as well as financial aid to retrain fishermen who are likely to be laid off.
This will be seen as a sop to the powerful French fishing lobby which has threatened blockades if the ban is imposed. The fishermen’s leaders are also seeking an urgent meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Continue reading ‘Bluefin tuna ban: France pledges support for CITES listing’
At last, France has officially announced support for an international trade ban on Atlantic bluefin. This is great news.
It means that 23 out of the 27 EU countries now support the species being protected by CITES (the organisation which regulates trade in endangered species). It also means there is no longer any effective block to stop the EU reaching a common position (at a previous vote, it had been blocked by the Mediterranean countries).
Two of the main fishing nations, Italy and France are supporting the trade ban, and Italy has already declared it is suspending its own fishery. That is pretty momentous. It’s as if the proverbial turkeys have just voted for Christmas by a landslide.
Wind back just a year, and this might all seem unthinkable. Yet President Sarkozy stood up on a podium last July and announced France was going to protect bluefin. The position in France has not exactly been as clear as consommé in the intervening months, and the political position seems to have flip-flopped more than a floundering fish on a foredeck. Continue reading ‘Por fin – France support trade ban on bluefin tuna’
It’s de rigueur in some quarters to dismiss France jokingly, as the Simpsons and some US political-types famously have done in the past. But the news today from Brussels suggests that the French government have made an embarrassing volte-face on bluefin tuna.
Just two months ago, none other than President Sarkozy himself announced that France would back a ban on international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna. This was huge news, as one of the principal fishing countries for the species, no one had thought they would take this position. This meant supporting the listing of the species under CITES, as is already the case for similarly-threatened species like rhinos, tigers, and gorillas. None of which, of course, are lucrative for big business or in high demand as delicious sushi.
France’s backing for a ban was promptly followed by the UK , Netherlands , Germany , Austria and Poland , all of them lining up to endorse the proposal by Monaco (the world’s first bluefin-free country). Amidst a flurry of media pressure, celebrity lobbying, and the influence of the End Of The Line, it seemed that bluefin had become a cause célèbre … and there was much rejoicing when the European Commission added its weight to the call for a ban just ten days ago.
So – just what has happened today? Well in order for the EU to back the proposal (and all 27 Member States would be bound by this) they needed to get a ‘qualified majority’ of 75%, effectively representing three quarters of the EU’s population. Because large and populous countries like France , Spain and Italy have voted against the proposal – there is in effect no agreement.
That means the decision will pass to Environment ministers from each of the EU member states at a later meeting, and it means that for all the press-posturing, none of the EU countries, or the EU itself, can co-sponsor Monaco ’s proposal to make a ban on the international trade in bluefin a reality.
Undoubtedly there has been fervent lobbying behind the scenes, by those with a vested interest, from the EU and beyond. And we know, too, that the ineffectual and shambolic Management Organisation ICCAT, currently tasked with looking after Atlantic bluefin, is desperate not to cede control to CITES. But we also know that others are wising up to the situation, with Mitsubishi Corporation last week reiterating its own concerns over the state of Atlantic bluefin.
So, as well as possibly being an embarrassing day to be European, today is not a good day to be a bluefin tuna – with reports surfacing just last week of the failures of enforcement and ever more illegal fishing of this beleaguered species.
As they say in France , plus ça change.
President Sarkozy of France has announced his country’s support for a ban on international trade in endangered bluefin tuna before it disappears forever from the sea and our plates.
His initiative was followed quickly by a similar announcement by Huw Irranca-Davies, the British fisheries minister.
The backing of two major EU countries for a ban on the international bluefin tuna trade has instantly given weight and momentum to the campaign by Monaco - and our film, The End of the Line - to have the bluefin listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) next year.
Fishermen haul in a catch of Northern bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) caught with the traditional 'Mattanza' fishing method, Mediterranean Sea
The United States will now be under pressure to respond. Speaking at the close of a national stakeholder consultation on France’s future sustainable fisheries and maritime policy, President Sarkozy said: “France supports listing bluefin tuna on the CITES convention to ban international trade.”
He added: “Ours is the last generation with the ability to take action before it’s too late – we must protect marine resources now, in order to fish better in future. We owe this to fishermen, and we owe it to future generations.” Continue reading ‘Sarkozy takes the lead on saving the bluefin tuna’