“Bad Start” as EU Says Nay to Proposed Quotas in Summit To Save Bluefin Tuna

The Mediterranean fishing nations of Europe have rejected the proposed measures to help keep the endangered bluefin tuna safe. These measures were proposed just last month by Maria Damanaki, the EU fishing chief.

This “Nay”, which was given this past Wednesday, means that the 27-nation EU will join in the international quota discussions in Paris this week. This discussion will center around harsher methods to help save the fish, whose numbers have been declining exponentially over the past four decades.

The EU is seen as one of the best in the world when it comes to Atlantic bluefin. These bluefin can grow as big as a horse, swim faster than a sports car, and can be hawked at markets in Japan for a whopping $100,000.

The bluefin quota for this past year was 13,500 tonnes and Damaki has commented that in order to help the bluefin get back on their feet, that the quota should be reduced to 6,000 tonnes for 2011. This was suggested last month at the ICCAT – International Commission for Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. The ICCAT discussions, due to last ten days, began this past Wednesday.

Ms. Damanaki granted that in order for fishermen to maintain their livelihoods that the quota would need to be more than 6,000 tonnes. However, in a meeting this past Wednesday, the EU ambassadors to Brussels, which were led by France, squawked at the notion and submitted one of their own, which doesn’t even take into consideration any quota reductions.

“Nevertheless, the Commission will respect its obligations as the negotiator on behalf of the European Union,” Ms. Damanaki responded somewhat tersely.

Conservationists have accused France of not being green enough – see the fact that they parked a giant tuna in front of their commission offices.
“It’s a bad start,” commented an adviser to the U.S.-based Pew Environment Group, Remi Parmentier. “Here we have a real test-case of the EU putting words into action for reforming fisheries.”