With a vote of 72 to 43, and 14 abstentions, the 129 member governments of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) rejected a proposed bluefin tuna trade ban at their meeting in Qatar this week.
This is despite overwhelming scientific justification and growing political support for a ban – with backing from the most significant bluefin fisheries on both sides of the Atlantic.
Discussions on the ban were cut drastically short at the CITES conference. The Principality of Monaco (the first country ever to go bluefin-free) tabled the proposal on Thursday afternoon, and a few countries gave brief interventions, then Libya suddenly called for an immediate vote.
Dr Sergi Tudela , head of fisheries at WWF Mediterranean, and an observer at the Qatar conference, says: “It’s scandalous that governments didn’t even get the chance to engage in meaningful debate.”
But this is not the end of the matter for us. A growing proportion of the global seafood market is already choosing to avoid Atlantic bluefin tuna, to give the exhausted fish stocks a chance of recovery.
It’s now more important than ever for people to act where politicians have failed. And we’ll keep calling on restaurants, retailers, chefs and consumers around the world to stop selling, serving, buying and eating this gravely endangered species.