Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in response to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) committee vote on Monaco's proposal to prohibit international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna. The proposal failed by a vote of 20 for, 68 against, and 30 abstentions. The vote could be reconsidered at the final plenary session on Thursday, March 25.
"Today's CITES committee vote not to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna is an unfortunate step backwards. This deeply disappointing and irresponsible vote signals a bleak future for this iconic fish.
"This meeting presented a golden opportunity for governments to take a stand against overfishing, and too many governments failed to do so. The Atlantic bluefin tuna will not receive the protections of a suspension in international trade that it so desperately needs. The market for this fish is just too lucrative and the pressure from fishing interests too great, for enough governments to support a truly sustainable future for the fish.
"Today's vote puts the fate of Atlantic bluefin tuna back in the hands of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the very body that drove the species to the disastrous state it is now in. Despite past failures, we call upon ICCAT and its member governments to learn from the debate here at CITES and understand that the long-term viability of the fishing industries they regulate depends on the long-term survival of the fish."