Protests at bluefin tuna conference

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Protests at bluefin tuna conference

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Eight days to save bluefin tuna – that’s the dramatic message environmentalists are trying to drive home as talks opened on the future of the endangered fish.

The conference comes only a day after France, Spain and other nations forced the European Union to abandon a plan to reduce fishing based on scientific advice.

The EU proposed cutting the current quota of over 13,000 tonnes by more than half. The latest plans envisage a reduction to 11,000 tonnes.

Greenpeace activist Francois Chartier said: “That’s clearly insufficient and it’s because of the fishing lobby in countries like France.’‘

While some conservationists want tuna quotas slashed, others are calling for a complete ban, saying illegal fishing is rampant.

In all, 48 countries are at the meeting, including Japan which prizes bluefin tuna as a delicacy.

Chief Consular of the Fisheries Agency of Japan Masanori Miyahara said: ‘‘First you see you have to take management measures based upon science, plus we need to ensure the compliance with those measures. So you see we have to have significant progress in both aspects.’‘

Bluefin tuna stocks in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean have dropped significantly in recent years, down an estimated 60 per cent between 1997 and 2007.

Despite those figures, France has pressed to keep the current quota unchanged.