A fine kettle of fish

18 Mar 2010

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
CITES 2010 – Doha
Press release n°5

Bluefin tuna will not be listed in the CITES appendices, not in appendix 1, not in appendix 2, not in anything at all. Monaco’s proposal was sunk in less than 3 hours following a flurry of objections and the agitated speech of Libya, which asked for the premature closure to the debates while waving a threatening finger at the assembly. The amendments that Spain, on behalf of the member countries of the European Community, had the time to present will not suffice, perhaps even to the contrary. Raising procedural questions, the amendments have had the ability since several days ago to put a number of parties on edge, by highlighting that the European Union is ill-placed to pose as a protector of tuna, when it was so late in promoting serious measures within the specialized convention, ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas). Several speakers argued that while rich countries could compensate their fishermen and pay for exit plans for their fleets, this was not the case for developing countries.

The European Commission’s amended proposal went first, voted according to the procedural rules:

For: 43

Against: 72

Abstentions: 14

Monaco’s original proposal was then put to a vote, and the result was worse:

For: 20

Against: 68

Abstentions: 30

These results are not a good sign for ICCAT, which had just accelerated its movement towards more protective measures, anxious about the prospect of the listing of bluefin tuna at CITES. Robin des Bois continues to think that control over the international trade in bluefin tuna should be brought about by CITES and hopes that Monaco will present in plenary next week a resolution asking the two international conventions to work together in view of proposing its listing in appendix 2 during the next session. Appendix 2 is not detrimental for ICCAT and it is much less fiercely opposed there.

For reference, here is the list of countries having expressed opposition to the proposal:

Canada, Indonesia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Chile, Japan, Grenada, Korea, Senegal, Turkey, Morocco, Namibia, Lybia (thus indirectly Sudan)

Countries expressing support: European Union (subject to its amendments), United States of America, Norway (with other amendments).

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