Japan Says It Will Ignore A Ban On Bluefin Tuna

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Japan Says It Will Ignore A Ban On Bluefin Tuna

By Kayla Coleman on Care2.com
February 2010

Bluefin tuna are collected from fish farms and killed when they are still too young to mate. Their slow sexual maturity might mean the end of the bluefin tuna, unless the world's nations come together to protect this valuable species at the CITES CoP15 next month.

Japan has announced that it will ignore a ban on international trade of the Atlantic bluefin tuna. This will likely be a hot topic when the meeting of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) takes place in March.

The bluefin tuna is the foundation for one of the most profitable fisheries in Japan. The country also uses the fish for a pricey sashimi delicacy. Unfortunately, the bluefin tuna is also one of the world's most endangered fish species, found on Greenpeace's red list.

Bluefin tuna are collected from fish farms and killed when they are still too young to mate. Their slow sexual maturity might mean the end of the bluefin tuna, unless the world's nations come together to protect this valuable species at the CITES CoP15 next month.

A representative from Japan has said they don't believe bluefin tuna is endangered "to that extent." They insist the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) should be the one to moniter the bluefin tuna population, instead of CITES. (Perhaps this is because when a species is added to the CITES list, it is not removed.) Does Japan not know that 60,000 tons of bluefin tuna are fished each year, when the legal limit is only 22,000 tons? This makes the bluefin tuna grossly overfished, and the only way to prevent its imminent extinction might be a worldwide ban.

Suspiciously, Japanese company, Mitsubishi, who controls 35-40 percent of that 60,000 tons of bluefin tuna stock, has been accused of hoarding thousands of bluefin tuna. Conservationists think Mitsubishi might be trying to corner the market, so if and when bluefin tuna become extinct, the price will skyrocket and they will turn an obscene profit.

In order to pass the formal proposal for a ban on bluefin tuna, CITES will need 2/3 approval from its 175 member countries. European countries, like France, home of the largest fillet of Mediterranean bluefin tuna, say they are prepared to back an international trade ban.