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Bluefin tuna ban backed by the EC

European Commission supports campaign to ban trade in bluefin tuna, reports Envido.

Europe has shown its support behind a campaign to outlaw trade in endangered bluefin tuna, which would allow bluefin tuna fish stocks to begin recovery in 2010.

The commission agreed to support Monaco, the first country to ban bluefin tuna trading, in its attempt to have the bluefin tuna fish listed internationally as an endangered species.

Further scientific advice on the matter is, however, needed before a final decision next month of March and would put the issue before other member states. Yet a complete ban on trade in bluefin tuna is supported by EU member states such as Germany, France, Britain and several others, Mediterranean countries are likely to oppose the bluefin tuna ban as they are at the centre of the European bluefin tuna industry.

The Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, said: "It is great news that the commission is showing its support for the proposal to give bluefin tuna its protection as an endangered species, which the UK is backing strongly."

If the 27 countries in the EU vote as a bloc next March, there should be a majority for a global ban on bluefin tuna trading. The Environment Commissioner said "This decision marks an important step in the protection of bluefin tuna."

According to experts, the depleted stocks of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean have hit almost extinction levels with bluefin tuna thought to below 18% of the total in 1970. Stocks of bluefin tuna were decimated throughout the 1990s. Around 80% of the bluefin tuna caught in the Mediterranean is exported to Japan for conversion into sushi after the bluefin tuna fish have been fattened for several months in European bluefin tuna fish farms.

Russell Lerman, from Envido, comments, "Bluefin tuna has become endangered because of questionable management of fisheries in the EU. As a result, the suspension merely buys the EU time to put its fisheries management in order, as a last resort to save the bluefin tuna."

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