Will tuna disappear from the supermarket shelves?
The question comes before the international conference on wildlife protection in Doha today, which will consider a possible trade ban.
Monaco is behind a move, backed by the EU, to list bluefin tuna as an endangered species. Scientists say it faces extinction if overfishing continues.
In Spain, which along with France and Italy accounts for half of the world’s total allowable catch, fishermen are anxiously awaiting the outcome.
“It is a complete disaster,” said Joaquin Pachego, a fishing boat captain from Andalucia. “I am 52 years old. I have been doing this since I was a child. We will fight and fight to keep what we have because there is nothing else. Where would we go?“
The EU backs exemptions for traditional fishermen and wants to defer a trade ban for a year.
“There is a lot of uncertainty among my colleagues,” said fisherman Agustin Rivera, “because our future will be decided in Doha. We hope they stop the industrial fleets and let the local industry continue.”
Japan, which consumes some three-quarters of all bluefin tuna caught worldwide, is leading the opposition to the Doha proposal. It argues that fishing needs better regulation, and has support from several Asian countries and from Tunisia, centre of the main North African fishing industry.
Tuna trade ban considered by wildlife conference