EU backing for bluefin tuna trade ban sparks Japan protests

EU backing for bluefin tuna trade ban sparks Japan protests
# 12 March 2010 01:16 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Governments indicate support for complete international ban to allow species to recover from years of over-fishing, APA reports quoting “The Guardian”.

Japanese tuna brokers protested today after the EU decided to support a worldwide trade ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna. EU governments indicated that they would back a complete international ban on the species to allow the bluefin to recover from years of over-fishing.

The protest came just days ahead of a meeting this weekend of Cites, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, in Doha, which will see 175 member states vote on whether to add the fish to a list of animals threatened with extinction, banning its trade.

Raw tuna is a key ingredient in sushi and sashimi in Japan, the world’s main purchaser of bluefin. Although the ban would not prevent the fish from being caught, it would end the trade between European fishing fleets and Japan, where about 80% of captured bluefin ends up.

"This is like telling the US to stop eating beef," said Kimio Amano, a 36-year-old broker at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo who joined about 100 other dealers – many clad in work boots and shiny waterproof overalls – to chant slogans calling for better use of the ocean’s resources.

The brokers argue that an Atlantic ban would be unnecessary if existing tuna stocks were better managed. The Japanese tuna industry also contends that the implementation of the ban could lead to broader restrictions.

"Our biggest hope is that this doesn’t spread to the Pacific," said Tadao Ban, head of the Tokyo co-operative for large fish dealers. For this reason we are promoting strict resource management. We are even supporting putting a tag on each and every tuna caught."

Global stocks of bluefin tuna – which can reach 14ft (4.3 metres) in length and weigh more than 1,000lb (450kg) (450kg) – have been decimated over the last decade, particularly in the Atlantic.

It is estimated that some 1m bluefins were caught last year, while the total population is thought to be about 3.75m. The WWF says stocks of bluefin tuna in the Atlantic have dropped by 80% since 1978.