Proposed EU ban on Atlantic Bluefin tuna

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 23rd February 2010

The European Commission today proposed that the European Union should press for a ban on international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna, to enter into force within the next year.

FishEuropean Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said, “We have a responsibility to future generations to take decisive action when faced with the likelihood that a species will disappear forever. We have the duty to preserve our natural capital. Since there is a high risk that Atlantic bluefin tuna will soon be gone forever, we have no other choice than to act now and propose a ban on international trade.”

Overfishing of the Atlantic bluefin tuna, driven by skyrocketing demand and high prices – a single tuna can fetch over A$100,000 in Japan’s hungry market – has lead to drastically reduced breeding populations.  The European Commission has recommended that the Atlantic Bluefin be added to Appendix I of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, as a species threatened with extinction.

A ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna would be extremely beneficial to the trade in Australia’s southern bluefin tuna.  “Demand would go up, price would go up,” said Clean Seas Tuna chief executive Clifford Ashby on the initial proposal of the ban last year.

The Commission’s recommendation will be discussed with EU member states in order to reach a common EU position for the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), taking place in Doha, Qatar, from 13 to 25 March 2010.