The blog allows me some freedom to talk about issues that are related to the issue of cetacean conservation, but could be seen to be tangental at first sight. At the end of September it appears some EU countries have sought to block the EU taking a string position on the protection of Blue Fin tuna.
As reported in the UK’s Guardian newspaper on the 22nd of September, ‘The "Club Med" of southern European Union countries came under attack from environmentalists today for defying the campaign to ban trade in Bluefin Tuna, Japan's highly prized sushi fish, whose stocks are dwindling dangerously low.’
Monaco has proposed a CITES Appendix I listing for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, but Malta, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, France, and Greece have sought to block the move. This is not surprising from some of these countries such as Malta who make a lot of money out of the Bluefin Tuna industry exports, but it was surprising to see France take such a position after President Sarkozy had already made public statements in favour of listing.
Leading the pressure on the EU to change their position is the conservation group Oceana, whose European Executive Director, Xavier Pastor, condemned the minority of EU countries’ actions as ‘deplorable’.
And why is tuna so important to cetaceans?
Well one, tuna is as worthy of conservation as any creature, but we should also note that some may point out that the hypocrisy of some nations when it comes to protecting such long lived migratory species as tuna makes a mockery of their arguments against Japan when it comes to whaling. Apart from the fact that Japan is the black hole that consumes much of the world’s Bluefin Tuna (Japan's Mitsubishi conglomerate has cornered a 40 per cent share of the world market in bluefin tuna), it is one of the leading whaling countries and it is willing to use it experiences in that fora in its fisheries debates. Japan has used ‘scientific fishing’ on tuna as an argument to get round conservation efforts just as it has used ‘scientific whaling’ to get round the ban on commercial whaling.
To Japan it just shows that it needs to appeal to some countries in the EU economic interests and conservation principles are put aside. Japan has not hesitated in the past to link one conservation issue in a trade off against another affecting its interests. Japan’s support for the ivory trade not only benefited its own domestic demand for ivory but meant it ‘secured’ the support of several African countries for its CITES down-listing proposals for elephants.
The UK, Germany, Belgium and others are still fighting for the Bluefin Tuna; I only hope France and the other so-called ‘Club Med states’ don’t buckle so easily when it comes to whales.
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