Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in response to a declaration from France of support for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) proposal to prohibit international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna.
“The Atlantic bluefin tuna, perhaps the most iconic and valuable fish in the sea, have been overfished to the point where an international trade suspension is critical for recovery. An expert panel convened by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization agreed that the species qualifies for a CITES Appendix I listing, which would put this protection in place.
“When the European Union initially considered cosponsoring the CITES bluefin proposal last fall, all six Mediterranean countries blocked the action. Monaco submitted the proposal to CITES and now, with the backing of France, supporters are no longer swimming upstream. The European Union's 27 votes at CITES will become a building block for the conservation movement.
“The leaders of France - and of course Monaco - understand that halting commercial trade is the best way to rebuild Atlantic bluefin tuna populations. France's declared support for the listing should not, however, be qualified with any sort of implementation delay. The viability of the fishing industry depends on the fish's survival. We are concerned that France's proposal for an 18-month delay would allow for another 18 months of over-fishing and possibly stockpiling, further threatening the species and its recovery.”