UN fails, once again – Bluefin slaughter to continue

The UN has failed for a second time to pass legislation to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna from over-explotation and commercial extinction. The news came from a UN conference on endangered species, where the body also voted against ending the international trade in polar bear parts, shark parts and plans to vote to re-establish the trade in elephant parts and will consider bans on tiger and rhinoceroses “products” later this week. Wait, what is this conference about?  It sounds more like a trade show for animals pieces and parts. Maybe those progressive contrarians over at the Breakthrough Institute are right about the UN being the wrong place to develop international conservation regulations.  After all, a two-thirds majority vote is needed to pass anything meaningful. Is it any wonder this group is failing to simply pass legislation? And people fear a UN-run one world government?!

Atlantic bluefin tuna are listed by the IUCN as ‘critically endangered’.

From wikipedia (here): The Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), also known as the northern bluefin tunagiant bluefin tuna(for larger individuals exceeding 150 kilograms or around 300 pounds) and formerly as the tunny, is a species of tuna native to both the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Atlantic bluefin have been recorded in the Black Sea in the past, but are now believed to be extinct there. The Atlantic bluefin tuna is a close relative of the other two bluefin tuna species – the Pacific bluefin tuna and the southern bluefin tuna.

Today, the Atlantic bluefin tuna is the foundation of one of the world’s most lucrative commercial fisheries. Medium-sized and large individuals are heavily targeted for the Japanese raw fish market, where all species of bluefin are highly prized for sashimi. This commercial importance has led to severe overfishing. TheInternational Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) affirmed in October 2009 that Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks are declining dramatically, by 72% in the Eastern Atlantic, and by 82% in the Western Atlantic.[1] On October 16, 2009 Monaco formally recommended Endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna for an Appendix I CITES listing and international trade ban.

See our recent post on the bluefin travesty and the ICCAT here, where Jez says:

I’ve often wondered whether people who eat tuna from a can have any idea what a tuna fish actually looks like? How does a can of tuna still cost less than a dollar? Mainly because the average tin of tuna comes from smaller and less tasty species (usually albacore or skipjack at roughly $25 per pound), which are still plentiful* in the oceans as they require less resources to survive and reproduce. In contrast, the closely related southern bluefin tuna commands upwards of $350 per pound, yet is IUCN listed as ‘critically endangered’. With commercial extinction looming on the horizon, who will be the last person to eat a southern bluefin?

March 18, 2010, from the NYT, read it here

U.N. Rejects Export Ban on Atlantic Bluefin Tuna


PARIS — Efforts to ban international trade in bluefin tuna and polar bears were rejected Thursday by a United Nations conference on endangered species, as delegates in Doha, Qatar refused to back the U.S.-backed measures.

A proposal by Monaco to extend the highest level of U.N. protection to the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin, a fish prized by sushi lovers for its fatty belly flesh, failed by a lopsided vote of 20-68, with 30 abstentions, Juan Carlos Vasquez, a spokesman for the U.N. organization, said.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora counts 175 member governments, though far fewer were represented for the votes in Doha. European Union nations, whose fleets are most responsible for the overfishing of the bluefin, abstained from voting after the bloc’s own watered-down proposal failed earlier in the day.

The rejection was a defeat for environmentalists and a clear victory for the Japanese government, which had vowed to go all out to stop the measure. Japan, which consumes more than three-quarters of the Mediterranean bluefin catch, argued that the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, or Iccat, an intergovernmental organization, should be responsible for regulating the stock, not the United Nations.

While there is near-universal agreement that bluefin stocks are in danger, Japan’s argument resonated with other fishing nations, which were uneasy about what would have marked the first intrusion by the convention into a major commercial fishery.

But an independent review commissioned by Iccat shows that its own record on managing the fish“ is widely regarded as an international disgrace.” The agency has presided over more than two-thirds decline in the stock since 1970 — with much of that drop coming in just the last decade with the onset of huge industrial fishing operations and tuna “ranching.” And while the organization, which has no effective enforcement mechanism, has the authority to set quotas, year after year it has set the catch above the level that its own scientists say is safe to ensure the health of the species.

This is the second time Japan has defeated a proposal at the conference to protect the bluefin. A similar proposal by Sweden failed at 1992 UN convention in Kyoto. While the bluefin vote was held by secret ballot, Japanese officials said this week that China and South Korea also opposed the measure, and Canada openly opposed it.

In a joint statement, Janez Potocnik, the European environment commissioner and Maria Damanaki, the commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries, said they were “disappointed” with the outcome, and called for Iccat to “take its responsibility to ensure that stocks are managed in a sustainable way.” If no action is taken, they warned, “there is a very serious danger that the bluefin tuna will no longer exist.”

The proposal to ban trade in polar bear parts and skins failed on the first vote, by a margin of 48-62, with 11 abstentions.

read the full article here

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