EU Says It Will Back Bluefin Tuna Trade Ban - And Then There Was Japan...

bluefin tuna sushi photo

photo: Yusuke Kawasaki via flickr.

The US has agreed to back an international ban on trade in critically endangered bluefin tuna, and now the European Union nations will do so as well, with Malta being the only dissenting vote. That still leaves us with Japan, which consumes about 80% of the world's bluefin tuna, saying it won't participate when CITES votes to ban trade next week.That said, the European Union will back exemptions for traditional fishermen (though hasn't specified what that exactly is), as well as deferring participating in the ban for one year. The United States has supported no such conditions.

Why the Conditions Wonders WWF?
WWF's Sergi Tudela was quick to praise the move, with some conditions of its own:

With the two largest holders of bluefin tuna fishing quota on either side of the Atlantic now supporting the trade ban, other countries should follow suit.

Our only remaining concern is that we do not understand the need on the part of the EU for conditions to be attached... WWF believes this trade ban should be implemented without conditions or delay.

Japan still maintains that other nations should respect it's now well vocalized position that the fish is a part of its culture, the consumption of which should not be tampered with (which sounds a bit like it's stance on whaling and dolphin killing, but that's another issue...).

Tradition Should Not Be Excuse For Eating a Species to Extinction
Too bad for Japan's traditional consumption of bluefin tuna, at current fishing rates Atlantic bluefin are likely to be extinct in a few years. So, it's either ban fishing to allow the fishery to recover (and perhaps one day be robust enough to allow fishing again) or just keep on eating bluefin into oblivion and thereby have that aspect of Japanese culture disappear forever.

Seems like it should be obvious what course is the more sustainable, but at least on this the Japanese government has its eyes tightly shut and its fingers stuck in its ears.

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