CITES and bluefin tuna

2010-03-18

in Economics, Law, Politics, Rants, Science

Bluefin tuna, mentioned here before, are in worse trouble than ever before. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has voted against a moratorium on fishing them, despite collapsing stocks. As a consequence: “The outlook for the bluefin tuna is not good. Scientists already agree that the population is crashing, and that quotas allocated to fishermen remain too generous to give any reasonable degree of certainty of a recovery.”

It is remarkable and disheartening that human beings are basically choosing to wipe them out, with full knowledge of the consequences of their actions. It shows how little regard we have for nature, future generations, and even ourselves in decades hence. It suggests that human intelligence and rationality operate only within strict and rather disturbing limits.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

DALE TRENHOLM March 19, 2010 at 4:21 am

I fear for the species.Should of been APPENDIX TWO at the very least. Its a sad day when the world chooses money over conservation.I’m a canadian tuna fisherman and love to fish them with rod and reel.It’s a great sport and would like my chrildren to experance that rush also .With this dission I don’t see any future in the tuna industry or sport.WAKE UP WORLD

. March 19, 2010 at 10:05 am

Rejected trade ban ‘sounds death knell’ for bluefin

MICHAEL CASEY
March 20, 2010

DOHA: Fishing nations have voted down environmentalists, with a US-backed proposal to ban export of the Atlantic bluefin tuna overwhelmingly rejected at a UN wildlife meeting. The decision has been described as the end for the species.

The US and European Union, which had backed the ban, expressed regret at the decision in Qatar as environmental groups issued dire forecasts of annihilation for the costly fish.

Patrick Van Klaveren, head of the Monaco delegation that submitted the ban proposal, said the UN body had sounded the death knell for bluefin tuna.

”It will not be [the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species] that is the ruin of professional [fisheries],” he said. ”It will be nature that lays down the sanction, and it will be beyond appeal.”

Japan won over scores of poorer nations with a campaign that played on fears a ban would devastate their economies. Tokyo also raised doubts that such a radical move was scientifically sound.

With stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna down 75 per cent due to over-fishing, the European Commission said the trade ban’s rejection threatened the survival of the ocean predator. Environmental group Greenpeace also warned the vote ”sets the species on a pathway to extinction”.

”Let’s take science and throw it out the door,” Susan Lieberman, director of international policy with the Pew Environment Group in Washington, said sarcastically.

”It’s pretty irresponsible of the governments to hear the science and ignore the science. Clearly, there was pressure from the fishing interests. The fish is too valuable for its own good.”

Japan, which imports 80 per cent of the tuna, had lobbied delegates hard to kill the proposal, even hosting a reception for uncertain delegates that included plenty of bluefin sashimi.

Tristan March 19, 2010 at 1:30 pm

The elites fail again.

What can we do now? Well, we could start setting up alternative institutions. Co-operatives were incredibly important to the anti-fascist resistance during the Spanish Civil war – without them there would have been no ready-made infrastructure to run distribution after capitalism broke down.

. March 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Trade and conservation
Fin times
Ban the trade in bluefin tuna—but set a clear path to sustainable exploitation

Mar 18th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

THE majestic bluefin tuna has been fished in the waters of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic for at least 7,000 years, doing its fish bit to sustain human wealth, health and happiness. But in the past four decades an orgy of overfishing has reduced its population by more than 80%. The situation is now so bad that the bluefin may be declared sufficiently endangered for trade in it to be banned at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which gathers in Doha this week.

The bluefin was supposed to have been managed by an intergovernmental body, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). But this was so stunningly bad at the job that it was dubbed the International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna. In one recent year the scientific advice was to catch at most 15,000 tonnes of tuna. ICCAT imposed a limit of 30,000 tonnes. The actual catch was 60,000 tonnes. Little wonder the bluefin is vanishing fast.

In theory a temporary trade ban would allow stocks to rebuild themselves. But would it work? As this newspaper has occasionally pointed out before, banning trade is not normally a good idea. In the case of wildlife, a ban must meet at least four conditions. First, the species in question must be seriously threatened by international trade. (If the problem is habitat loss, domestic use or disease, a trade ban will not help.) Second, bans must be coupled with measures to reduce demand. Third, they must not undermine incentives to conserve endangered species in the wild. And lastly they must be supported by the governments and citizens where the species lives.

. March 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Today we have good news! Thanks to campaigning by Greenpeace and our supporters, leading Italian tuna brand Mareblu has decided to abandon destructive fishing methods in favour of sustainable practices by agreeing to source tuna only from pole and line and FAD free purse seining operations by the end of 2016. The move is a huge victory for our Tonno in trappola campaign and is a significant first shift in the Italian tinned tuna market. Mareblu has shown that when a company really wants to commit to taking action to save our oceans, it can do it. Now that the standard has been set, there can be no more excuses- all other major brands and retailers must follow.

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