Published 18 March 2010

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Bluefin Tuna listing rejected at CITES

Doha, Qatar, 18th March 2010 - The Monaco proposal to list Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) was today soundly rejected by delegates to the meeting, following a secret ballot. Just 20 countries voted in favour of the original Monaco proposal, with 68 voting against it and 30 abstentions. Earlier, a European Union amendment to the original proposal was also defeated. 

The listing of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in CITES was heavily defeated © Brian J Skerry l National Geographic Stock / WWF

“TRAFFIC is disappointed with the outcome as there was a clear case for the listing the species in the Convention,” said Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC’s Marine Programme Officer. 

The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is Critically Endangered. More than 90% of the fish caught in European waters are exported to Japan, the main consumer. 

Management of the tuna is under the control of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT). 

But ICCAT has in the past set quotas above what even its own scientists consider to be sustainable limits, leading to over-fishing and falling stocks. 

In 1992, a Proposal by Sweden to list Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in CITES was eventually withdrawn in the light of promises made by many countries that were members of both CITES and ICCAT that the already worrying state of Atlantic Bluefin fisheries could and would be fixed within the framework of ICCAT.

“Sadly, promises made in 1992 have not been realised and we should not make the same mistake we did in the CITES forum again by relying on action under ICCAT,” said Sant.

“Since 1992 there has been a serious lack of progress within ICCAT in reducing catches in line with scientific advice.

“There has never been a more compelling demonstration of the need for CITES engagement in a critical challenge for marine fisheries management.”