Ecologists defending the bluefin tuna have been urging the European Union to add the prized fish to a list of threatened species. A spokesman in Brussels said moves towards a decision would probably be taken next week.
This could eventually mean a temporary ban on bluefin sales on world markets, perhaps at the end of the 2010 fishing season. An EU position needs to be established this autumn, in preparation for the International Convention on Trade in Endangered Species meeting next March. A draft document has already said that over-exploitation is linked to international trade. With protected international status bluefin could only be sold locally. This would eliminate the main cause of over-fishing: the strong demand for the delicacy as sushi and sashimi in countries such as Japan and the United States.