Trade in bluefin tuna would be banned under a European plan to let the species recover. Brussels has proposed that the 27 EU members support listing the bluefin as endangered.
A moratorium has won the backing of key states France, Italy and Spain, with most of the others also in favour. However, as a one-year delay would apply, this year’s season would go ahead as usual, from March to June.
EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki stressed the need for healthy stocks: “I am well aware of the costs, of the short-term costs, this decision will have on Mediterranian fisheries but I am sure that we can guarantee a viable future for the fisheries in the Mediterranean and for our fishermen.”
The trade ban would mostly impact on the industrial fleets that caused stocks to fall by more than 80 percent during the last 40 years.
Derogations would let traditional bluefin fishermen work from small boats, under quota.
Japan is expected to fight hard against a ban at
the next (CITES) international convention to decide the matter next month.
The bluefin trade is worth nearly 2 billion euros per year. Eighty percent of the catch is exported to Japan, for sushi.