U.S. Backs Efforts to Ban International Trade of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

Publication: Washington Post

Author: Juliet Eilperin

03/03/2010 - The U.S. government will announce Wednesday that it supports prohibiting international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna, according to sources familiar with the decision. The move that could lead to the most sweeping trade restrictions ever imposed on the highly prized fish.

Sushi aficionados in Japan and elsewhere have consumed bluefin for decades, a demand that has caused the fish's population to plummet. In less than two weeks, representatives from 175 countries will convene in Doha, Qatar, to determine whether to restrict the trade of bluefin tuna—valued for its rich, buttery taste—and an array of other imperiled species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Late last year, Monaco proposed listing Atlantic bluefin tuna under the treaty's Appendix I, which amounts to a total ban. The Obama administration did not immediately endorse the proposal, a move that sparked widespread criticism from American marine scientists and ocean activists. But Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks at the U.S. Department of the Interior, privately backed the proposal from the outset.

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A decision by the Obama administration to back Monaco's proposal "could be a real game changer for the species," said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy at the Pew Environment Group. 

"Other governments can either join Monaco and the United States in boldly supporting the conservation of bluefin tuna, sharks and other marine species, or they can yield to commercial fishing interests that focus more on short-term profits than a sustainable future for both fish and local fishing communities."

Read the full article U.S. Backs Efforts to Ban International Trade of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna on the Washington Post's Web site.

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