It was when a third of the cinema audience sprang to its feet shouting at us, and my wife, fearing violence, slipped out of the side door, that I began wondering if we had taken on more than we could handle. The screening last month of The End of the Line in Malta, the centre of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna industry, was the closest I have yet come to a riot since I first pointed out that overfishing is killing our oceans.
History repeats itself: the path to extinction is still paved with greed and waste. By: Jeremy Hance
The story of the Atlantic bluefin tuna is a long and mostly irrational one—that is if one looks at the Atlantic bluefin from a scientific, ecologic, moral, or common-sense perspective.
The upshot is, more than ever it’s up to us to do what our governments have failed to do. We need to make the continued trade in endangered species like bluefin politically, socially, and morally unacceptable… and we need to remove the market that makes it so lucrative. Because our collective governments don’t seem up to the job.
We urge you, and your colleague in DG ENVI, to maintain the position you adopted last month and to implement, on a unilateral basis, the consequences of an Appendix 1 listing, ie a ban on industrial fishing (such as by purse seines and possibly others) of bluefin tuna and on the export of tuna outside the territory of the EU.
CITES’s own press release, titled “Governments not ready for trade ban on bluefin tuna,” is surprisingly candid about how this happened.
As a result, there was a horrible row in EU co-ordination meetings afterwards and the borderline incompentent Spanish presidency which had contributed so much to the loss of the bluefin vote (accidentally or on purpose, you might ask) threatened Britain with a fine.
It is the 15th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Some call them the Conservation Olympics – two weeks of debate and voting on trade in endangered animals. From tuna to elephants, from tigers to sharks, 23,000 species come under the spotlight. …
“We are not anti-fishing or anti-consumption of tuna. In the long term we hope to see a sustainable fishing industry. It is in everyone’s interest to be more moderate now so that we can continue fishing in the future.”
What followed was not pretty. Japan and the fishing nations inflicted a stunning defeat on the conservationist countries, which had wanted to ban international trade in bluefin tuna. Japan’s victory, against the weight of scientific opinion, not only raises the question of whether the bluefin can survive but also whether rationality can ever prevail in preventing endangered species from being obliterated.
So in short, if they had so little idea what they were doing, why on
Earth didn’t ministers and officials ask civil society for more help?
It is now time for Parliamentarians and Congressmen to press