New York Times:
Delegates at a United Nations conference on endangered species in Doha, Qatar, soundly defeated American-supported proposals on Thursday to ban international trade in bluefin tuna and to protect polar bears ...
Delegates voted down the proposal to protect bluefin by 68 to 20, with 30 abstentions. The polar bear measure failed by 62 to 48, with 11 abstentions.AP reports:
The rejection of the bluefin proposal was a clear victory for the Japanese government, which had vowed to go all out to stop the measure or else exempt itself from complying with it. Japan, which consumes nearly 80 percent of the bluefin catch, argued that the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, or Iccat, should be responsible for regulating the fishery, not the United Nations. . . .
Thursday's decision occurred after Japan, Canada and scores of poor nations opposed the measure on the grounds that it would devastate fishing economies.
Only the United States, Norway and Kenya supported the proposal outright. The European Union asked that implementation be delayed until May 2011 to give authorities to respond to concerns about overfishing.The United States is certainly to be commended for its position. No doubt US diplomats did their best, but where was the top political leadership on this issue? The US was represented at the meeting by the assistant interior secretary for fish and wildlife and parks. In view of the high-level commitment of the Japanese to defeat the measure, the Obama Administration does not appear to have lobbied hard enough.
The adult population of eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna has declined 74 percent over the past half-century, much of it in the past decade, and the population has dropped 82 percent in 40 years in the western Atlantic.Here's a terrific video of the bluefin:
"This was a case of just plain ignoring the science for short-term economic gain," said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy at the Pew Environment Group, in an interview from Doha.
Mechanisms for protecting marine species need to be improved. Enforcement of existing restrictions against illegal fishing is rare. Grocery store chains and sushi joints continue to market endangered fish. This entire issue needs to be taken more seriously by every global citizen.
AP which has produced a video on the outcome, reports that next on the agenda is protecting the sharks. The Japanese, of course, are ready.