No ban on bluefin tuna, polar bear parts

Posted 2:48 AM by crkota in Labels: ,
The member nations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species voted Thursday not to prohibit international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna, a species that has been extensively overfished, or polar bear parts.

Japan, which imports about 80% of bluefin for sushi and sashimi, led those opposed to the ban. Many developing countries voted against it due to fears it would affect their fishing economies, the Associated Press reported from Doha, Qatar, where the meeting is taking place.

Only the United States, Norway and Kenya supported the proposal. It can still be reconsidered at the final plenary session on Thursday, March 25.

Conservation and fisheries groups have argued that the large, migratory fish need protection because their populations have fallen as much as 75% due to overfishing.

"The market for this fish is just too lucrative and the pressure from fishing interests too great, for enough governments to support a truly sustainable future for the fish," Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, said in a statement.

With no ban, the tuna will be regulated by the group that has long overseen their trade, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, or ICCAT.

Monaco and conservation groups said that historically ICCAT's quotas had been too high to allow the fish stocks to replenish.

"Today's vote puts the fate of Atlantic bluefin tuna back in the hands of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the very body that drove the species to the disastrous state it is now in," Lieberman said.

The delegates also rejected a U.S. proposal to ban the international sale of polar bear skins and parts. Canada and Greenland in turn said that a small enough number of polar bears are killed and thus wouldn't affect the population as a whole, while potentially devastating indigenous communities that rely on polar bear hunts for money.

U.S. delegates said that hunting only compounded the difficulties faced by the bears as their habitat degrades with climate change. By some projections, the iconic animals could decline by as much as two-thirds by 2050.

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