Conservation confab begins in Doha, focus on bluefin tuna

March 14, 2010 2:44 pm 

DOHA, March 14 — An international conference to conserve endangered wildlife opened Saturday in Doha, Qatar, with focus on a Monaco-proposed ban on all cross-border trade in bluefin tuna from the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

During the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora through March 25, Japan, a dominant consumer, will try to raise as much opposition to the proposal as possible until the last minute, Japanese Fisheries Agency officials said.

Negotiators from about 150 of the 175 signatory states to the so-called Washington Convention gathered for the meeting at a hotel in the Qatari capital, as well as members of environmental groups and industry lobbies.

About 40 proposals have been put on the table, including those to restrict trade in the spiny dogfish and soft corals called octocorallia as well as bluefin, organizers said.

Each proposal will be adopted by at least a two-thirds majority, and the one on bluefin will likely be put to a vote in the final days of the meeting, they said.

Monaco proposed the ban under Appendix I of the convention last year, saying bluefin tuna are threatened with extinction due to overfishing, and has so far won stated support from the Untied States and the 27-member European Union.

Norway will also back the proposal, a Norwegian government official said Saturday.

Australia, meanwhile, has said it believes the proposed blanket trade ban would undermine the recovery of the species and would prefer an Appendix II listing under the convention, which would see international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna closely monitored and regulated.

Japan, which consumes 80 percent of the world's yearly catch of the highly prized species, has said it will not comply if a total ban is imposed on international trade in bluefin tuna, citing a right to lodge reservations. (PNA/Kyodo)

LDV/rsm

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