10/09/09 — Effort seeking to place bluefin on endangered list

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Effort seeking to place bluefin on endangered list

By Courtesy NCCCA
Published in Sports on October 9, 2009 1:46 PM

Courtesy NCCCA

Citing the failure of the international community to rein in harvest of bluefin tuna, the Coastal Conservation Association is urging the United States to proceed with an effort to list the Atlantic bluefin on Appendix I to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and prohibit the international trade of the fish.

"It is clear from the last meetings of International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) that we are left with only one option to save bluefin tuna," said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCA's Government Relations Committee. "It is time for the United States to demonstrate some leadership and insist that all international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna be halted, while hope for a recovery still remains."

The call to list bluefin tuna as an endangered species was outlined in a letter from CCA Chairman Venable Proctor to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Proctor pointed to ICCAT's own independent review of its approach to fisheries management, which concluded that the management of bluefin tuna is an "international disgrace."

"ICCAT has failed to take any action to enforce its own regulations on its own members, which violate already excessive quotas with impunity, resulting in annual harvests that have been 400 percent of levels recommended by biologists intimately familiar with the species," Proctor stated. "American fishermen and markets are not responsible for driving bluefin tuna to the edge of extinction."

An Appendix I listing means that a species ranks among the most endangered of CITES-listed animals and is threatened with extinction. Such a CITES listing prohibits all international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, such as for scientific research.