Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in response to the European Commission's failure to reach an unqualified decision on the proposal to prohibit international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna at the upcoming meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
“Today's ‘recommendation' by the European Commission is a non-decision. Monaco proposed a CITES Appendix I listing for Atlantic bluefin tuna because the species is in dire straits. This is a direct result of poor fisheries management by the treaty organization responsible for managing the bluefin fishery, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as well as overfishing and illegal fishing, particularly in the Mediterranean.
“In 1992, the last time the bluefin was discussed at CITES, the proposal was withdrawn in favor of ICCAT taking action. But pressure from the fishing industry undercut ICCAT's ability to reduce the bluefin catch limit for more than a year. Only a CITES Appendix I listing can save the fish – and the fishery. In fact, ICCAT's standing committee on research and statistics and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization acknowledge that the bluefin stocks have been depleted to the point where the species qualifies.
“All fisheries must be managed with the best available scientific advice. Short-term economic and political concerns must not be allowed to trump science or the long-term survival of the fish. The Atlantic bluefin tuna is a clear case study of overfishing that must be stopped and should not be repeated. It is a clear case of needing the protections of CITES Appendix I – a suspension of international commercial trade.”