Bluefin Tuna Ban Fails, Sea Shepherd Steps Up

The United Nations has failed to agree on listing bluefin tuna at the recent meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna [CITES].

The decision occurred after Japan, Canada and many poor nations opposed the measure. Stocks of bluefin tuna have fallen by at least 85% since the industrial fishing era began. Bluefin quotas are set at a ludicrously high 13,500 tonnes by The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), but realistically over 60,000 tonnes are killed every year. The scientific community believe bluefin tuna may be extinct in the Mediterranean Sea in less than 5 years. The quota is too high, it is not enforced, there is insufficient political willpower to act, the same old story.

Monaco [who tabled the CITES ban motion] argued that the organization responsible for managing the bluefin fishery - ICCAT - had not implemented measures strict enough to ensure the species' survival.

Bluefin tuna had been put forward for proposed listing as an Endangered Species on CITES Appendix I – which would result in a complete ban on trade in the species among CITES parties. An expert panel of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization had examined the issue and felt an Appendix I categorization was necessary. In fact even ICCAT’s scientific advisors had recommended a trade ban as being justified.

Japan is once again leading the charge into the termination of the species. Japan worked with her allies and stopped the ban being invoked. Over 80% of bluefin tuna is sold in Japan, and companies holding large stockpiles of the valuable fish are keen to see the species become extinct – they will reap enormous profits and be able to control the market. There is simply too much money involved with greedy self interest groups, illegal fish traders, and self-interested political forces having once again won the day. The bluefin tuna have no chance.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (Sea Shepherd) will be arriving in the Mediterranean this summer and will stand against the illegal overfishing of bluefin tuna. Sea Shepherd will do everything possible within the boundaries of international law to protect the magnificent bluefin. By sea, air, and land, preparations are well underway for the Mediterranean bluefin tuna defense campaign, and Sea Shepherd’s flagship vessel Steve Irwin, having just returned from intervening against illegal whaling off the coast of Antarctica, is now on its way to enforce international conservation law in European waters.

Steve Roest
Chief Executive Officer
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

blue fin tuna
Photo Credit : Gary Stokes /

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