Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group, today issued the following statement on the United States' failure to co-sponsor a proposal for consideration by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that would protect Atlantic bluefin tuna. The proposal was made by Monaco to ban the international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna through a listing of the species on Appendix I of the Convention because of the deteriorating status of this species.
“This is a lost opportunity. The Obama administration veered drastically off its ‘use science to guide decision making' course by not backing this proposal to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna. As a result, the common sense conservation measures that would help stave off commercial extinction for this species are even further from becoming a reality.
“The Atlantic bluefin population that spawns in U.S. waters has declined by 80% since the 1970s. In addition, it is estimated that up to 30% of bluefin caught are taken illegally and not even reported. This makes a perilous situation worse. The scientific data on this species is solid and overwhelmingly justifies immediate action. The refusal of the U.S. to take the necessary steps to protect Atlantic bluefin through co-sponsoring an Appendix I ban in international trade will further escalate their decline and hasten their ultimate demise.
“CITES is the only global treaty that has the authority to regulate and enforce trade measures to protect those species threatened by international trade. It's also the best route for us to pursue to protect what some people call the ‘greatest fish' in the sea.”
Today was the final day on which countries that are party to CITES could propose the names of species to be listed in two different Appendices. The proposals will be considered at the next Conference of the Parties to CITES, to be held March 13 – 25, 2010 in Doha, Qatar.