Fishing nations crush Monaco and EU’s proposals to ban bluefin trade. By: Charles Clover in Doha

It was an ambush.

Fishing nations, led by Libya, ruthlessly voted down proposals to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna at the meeting of  115 parties to the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species this afternoon.

Delegates from Monaco, the EU and the United States had hoped to keep the proposals being discussed into next week in the hope that compromises could be found.  In the event, the debate was short and not at all sweet.

Monaco’s proposal for an unqualified trade ban was rejected by 68 votes to 20, with 30 abstentions.

Before that, the EU’s highly qualified version of the same proposal was crushed by 72 votes to 43.

The debate began with Monaco’s ambassador, Patrick Van Klaveren, speaking out in favour the proposal to place the Atlantic bluefin on Cites Appendix 1, on the grounds that the tuna had declined to less than 15 per cent of its original stock and UN scientists from two official bodies accepted that the criteria for it to be listed on Appendix 1 had been met.

This was followed by a lacklustre presentation, by the Spanish presidency, in favour of the conditions the EU wanted to place on the proposal.

Then, instead of the torrent of support conservationists had hoped for there was a cascade of fishing nations, starting with Canada, speaking out against the proposed ban and in favour of leaving the management of the bluefin with the Atlantic tuna commission, ICCAT, which until recently has failed to set scientifically based quotas or to crack down on illegal fishing.

Speeches in favour of ICCAT continuing to manage the species, which can fetch up to $100,000 for a single specimen on the Japanese market, rolled on – Indonesia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Chile, Japan, Grenada, Korea, Senegal, Morocco.

Tunisia talked of social problems that would be caused if there was a ban, Morocco spoke of 2000 families in an area of no other employment who would have no income.   Morocco said the bluefin was a flagship species it was in the interests of all to preserve, but said it was premature to regulate it under Cites.

Only Kenya, Norway and the United States spoke up in favour of a ban, despite advice from both the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and ICCAT’s own scientific committee that the bluefin deserved a respite from international trade.

By the time the eccentric Libyan delegate got the floor, it was clear where the majority lay.  All it took was for Libya to propose a vote on Monaco’s proposal, and the chairman of the meeting, John Donaldson, had to put the proposal to close the debate to the meeting.

It was quite clear from there what would happen.

Once the vote to hold a vote had been passed, the votes on the EU’s and Monaco’s vote were both lost.

Patrick Van Klaveren, for Monaco, said magnanimously: “It is not a defeat it is the manifestation of confidence put in ICCAT to solve the problem.”

He threatened to come back in 2013 with another proposal to list the bluefin under Appendix 1 if ICCAT failed to take up the challenge to manage the bluefin for recovery.

At the press conference he shook hands with the leader of the Japanese delegation, Mitsunori Miyahara, who had taken part in the defeat of an attempt to place the bluefin on Cites in 1992.

Mr Miyahara, chief counsellor to the Japanese Fisheries Agency, said: “We agree that the bluefin is not in good shape.  We have to take any measure for recovery.  We have to work harder from now on.”

He said that at last November’s meeting of ICCAT, “finally the system started to work.”

“We are going to wipe out illegal fish from our markets.”

Sue Lieberman of the Pew Environment Trust branded the decision “irresponsible.”

“This meeting has said let’s take science and throw it out the door.  There was clearly pressure from fishing industry.  This fish is too valuable for its own good.

“Statements made about ICCAT blatantly were false.  It’s time to hold ICCAT’s feet to the fire. We will be there every step of the way.”

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  1. Stéphan ()

    Quelques réflexions à chaud (brutes de décoffrage) :
    Tout d’abord merci à Charles Clover de nous faire vivre en direct les tractations occultes du Golfe.

    Les grands responsables de cet échec sont l’UE et les Etats-Unis qui n’ont jamais assumé leur rôle de porte drapeau dont ils n’ont fait que revêtir le costume : L’UE en introduisant des clauses peau de banane qui rendaient le montage incompréhensible et hautement improbable et les Etats Unis en ne rejoignant le camp des pour que 10 jours avant le début des débats. On a eu à faire à un théâtre d’ombre dans lequel ceux qui avaient déclaré qu’ils soutiendraient l’annexe 1 n’ont pris que des postures plus destinées à l’affichage qu’au combat politique.
    De combat il a bien été question; la délégation japonaise a joué sa partition sans se soucier des subtilités stratégiques des uns et des autres. Elles s’est donné les moyens de l’emporter notamment par un intense travail en amont. On peut toujours contester les moyens que l’on suppose qu’elle a employés mais montrer du doigt les vilains japonais c’est un peu jouer mauvais perdant. Si l’UE et les USA avaient voulu se donner les moyens de l’emporter, le score n’aurait pas été aussi désastreux.
    Parlons en du score : Il y avait deux propositions sur la table.
    Monaco Annexe 1 immédiate :
    Pour : 20 voix soit 17% des exprimés
    Contre : 68 (58%)
    Absention : 30 (25%)
    Union Européenne Annexe 1 différée et conditionnelle :
    Pour : 43 (30%)
    Contre : 72 (51%)
    Absention : 24 (17%)

    La proposition de Monaco a donc été rejetée par près de 85% des délégués (plus d’abstention que que de soutiens, ce qui est quand même un comble) et celle de l’UE par 70% d’entre eux.
    La messe est dite : Le boulet est passé beaucoup trop loin pour que l’ICCAT se remue.

    Non seulement les délégations de l’ICCAT savent qu’elles peuvent compter sur un robuste camp d’opposants au durcissement mais également sur la “bienveillance” de pays qui ne veulent pas se mouiller. Les délégués n’ont aucune raison d’avoir peur du score d’hier et ils doivent rigoler… A paris en Novembre ce sera comme tous les ans le marché au poisson. C’est cette absence totale de courage politique (délégations européennes et US mais aussi les votes blancs) qui inquiète. Or l’absence de courage politique, c’est justement ce qui a mené le thon rouge de Med au bord de l’effondrement et à la CITES et c’est justement ce qui le tuera.

    Posted March 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink135
  2. Karli Thomas ()

    I am disgusted at those that represented me in this meeting. New Zealand voted against the CITES listing of bluefin tuna. The Ministry of Fisheries in NZ has recently proposed to up the NZ catch of southern bluefin tuna by 27%. This species, cousin to the mighty Atlantic bluefin, has been overfished to less than 5% of its original population and is listed by the IUCN as “critically endangered”. The fact that our own stock is in an even worse state than the one being considered for CITES listing, and our government is trying to make a quick buck out of what’s left, gives a pretty clear indication of their line of thinking in blocking a trade ban for bluefin. New Zealand is also joining Japan in seeking a compromise deal under the International Whaling Commission that could see commercial whaling legitimised for the first time in decades, and our government is attempting to open up this country’s precious conservation land to mining. The New Zealand Prime Minister was quoted recently as saying commercial whaling “might be acceptable if it was acceptable to others” ( Not exactly the sort of principled stance you might expect from the plucky little country at the far end of the earth that declared itself nuclear free and proceeded to turn away warships from its harbours. This recent sell-out of our principles and identity makes me ashamed to be kiwi.

    Posted March 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Permalink134
  3. Markus ()

    what a sad day! the failed tuna trade ban is nothing else than an indication on how our “democratic” system is working. tuna is just one example, take a look around, where will our economy-driven administration decide in favor of sustainability or cooperation? “the freedom in the commons brings ruin to all”- where is t…he backdoor out of the cold logic of game-theory?

    Posted March 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink134
  4. Stéphan ()

    From Agence France Presse”

    “L’UE a voté en faveur de sa propre proposition et s’est abstenue sur la proposition de Monaco”, a expliqué un expert européen à l’AFP.
    “Le soutien européen était conditionnel à l’ajout de l’annotation” que l’UE avait souhaité apporter, différant l’entrée en vigueur de la mesure (inscription à l’Annexe I de la Convention) dans l’attente de nouvelles analyses scientifiques, a poursuivi l’expert sous couvert de l’anonymat.
    La proposition européenne venait d’être massivement rejetée (72 voix, contre 43).
    L’UE, comme Monaco, soutenue par les Etats-Unis et la Norvège, souhaitait la création d’un groupe de travail pour étudier d’éventuels amendements à leur proposition. Mais la Libye et le Soudan ont court-circuité les débats en exigeant de passer immédiatement au vote.
    “Je regrette un débat avorté et de n’avoir pu répondre à certaines contre-vérités énoncées”, a indiqué Patrick van Klaveren, chef de la délégation de Monaco. “La majorité des pays a décidé de faire confiance à l’ICCAT”, la Commission internationale pour la conservation des thonidés de l’Atlantique, qui réunit une cinquantaine de pays pêcheurs.
    “Ils ont jugé qu’elle avait tous les éléments pour résoudre le problème. Qu’elle le montre!”, a-t-il ajouté. “Sinon, ce n’est pas la CITES qui ruinera les professionnels, mais la nature qui enverra une sanction sans appel”.
    Masanori Miyahara (Japon) a exprimé sa “satisfaction” et, reprenant aussitôt sa double casquette de conseiller en chef des pêcheries japonaises et représentant de son pays à l’ICCAT, a ajouté: “Mais nous avons aussi beaucoup de devoirs à faire”.
    Depuis son arrivée à Doha, M. Miyahara soulignait que la CITES n’était pas le bon outil pour gérer les stocks de thon: “Faisons notre boulot avec l’ICCAT, pas la CITES”, a-t-il répété jeudi, assurant qu’il serait sinon “presqu’impossible” par la suite de lever l’interdiction du commerce.
    Mais M. Van Klaveren a rappelé aux délégués qu’en 1992, une proposition similaire de la Suède avait été retoquée et la gestion des stocks de thon rouge confiée alors à l’ICCAT: “Le résultat est que la capacité de reproduction du stock est passée de 200.000 tonnes à 60.000 en moins de 20 ans, que la taille des thons a été divisée de moitié (…) et que la pêche illicite a été multipliée par trois”.
    Le thon rouge, a-t-il insisté, “n’est pas pêché pour satisfaire les besoins alimentaires des populations mais pour alimenter un marché hautement spéculatif”.
    Consommateur de 80% des thons pêchés, le Japon a été accusé de conduire un lobbying effréné, ralliant de nombreux pays en développement (Tunisie, Indonésie, Venezuela, Chili, Corée, Maroc) qui ont défendu jeudi le rôle prioritaire de l’ICCAT.
    Grenade a déclaré craindre pour “sa sécurité alimentaire” et le Sénégal, comme la Namibie, a redouté que d’autres espèces de thon ne soient à leur tour inscrites à la CITES.

    Posted March 19, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Permalink134
  5. Stephan ()

    Shame on you all! (but 20 of you)

    Shame on Libya who has imposed passing directly to the vote without any debate.
    Shame on Iceland who has demanded the secret vote thus enabling 68 of you to hide their support to extinction.
    Shame on the EU who did not have the guts (or even the willingness) to fight the Hyper activism of the Japanese delegation.
    Shame on the US who, for obscure internal reasons, said they would support appendix 1 and did nothing to comfort Monaco.
    Shame on CITES who was too weak to resist to the demands of Libya and Iceland.

    Thank you to Monaco mostly and to the 20 supportive nations.

    We should never surrender. Do not forget, ICCAT : The whole world will be watching you in November!

    Posted March 19, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink134
  6. Ronei ()

    could someone tell me the most important things about this problem? I mean, who is the first winer and who is the first loser. because I find a big trouble that the problem with the bluefin involves several countries, only for a primary consumer, which is Japan. there is a global problem and it`s a big trouble in my opinion. thanks

    Posted March 25, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Permalink134
  7. Decepcionante. Esperemos que los tiburones corran con mejor suerte.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

    Posted April 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink136

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