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Environmentalists urge action at tuna talks

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 11, 2010
Environmentalists on Thursday urged the European Union to lead the way to protect tuna at upcoming talks in Paris, voicing worries about inaction on the lucrative mainstay of sushi.

The 48-member International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas meets from November 17 and 27 in the French capital, with the United States and European Union executive arm supporting cuts in catch quotas.

But several European countries led by France support maintaining current quotas, believing that bluefin tuna stocks are on track to stabilize. Japan, the top consumer of tuna, has also argued against sharp cuts.

Susan Lieberman, director of international policy at the Pew Environment Group, said that overfishing was pushing the creature that once fed Roman legions "to the brink of collapse."

"If the EU does the right thing, if the EU comes out with a strong position, we believe that the strong position will be carried," Lieberman told reporters.

The International Game Fish Association, which represents sport anglers, joined the Pew Environment Group in calling for a freeze in all but catch-and-release fishing in known spawning grounds of the bluefin tuna.

"We are -- probably as many are -- very, very skeptical about what might happen over there (in Paris), but we understand it as the only game in town," said Rob Kramer, the association's president.

"Desperate times call for desperate actions," he said. "Many of the communities in the Mediterranean are willing to give up much of what they already have to ensure the long-term survival of these species."

A study released Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said that demand for sushi has led to a giant black market in tuna, with governments sometimes collaborating with industry to cover up overfishing.

The seven-month investigation found that the black market in tuna was worth at least four billion dollars between 1998 and 2007.

A March meeting in Qatar of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species easily defeated a proposal to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna after intense lobbying against the plan by Japan.

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Pacific nations look to increase control over tuna fisheries
Majuro (AFP) Marshall Islands (AFP) Nov 11, 2010
Pacific island nations were missing out on income from lucrative tuna fisheries and should consider tripling access fees for foreign vessels, the region's fishing chief says. Transform Aqorau said Pacific islanders needed to take a united stand to ensure they received a fair share of their tuna catch, worth an estimated two billion US a year, which is dominated by US and Asian fishing compan ... read more

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