Efforts to protect the Atlantic bluefin tuna suffered a blow on Thursday when dozens of countries voted against a trade ban, drawing condemnation from environmental groups.
At the 175-nation meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Doha, 68 countries, opposed a proposal from Monaco for a trade ban, while 20 governments voted in favour and 30 others abstained, the WWF environmental organisation said.
Stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna, prized as a delicacy in Japan, have plunged more than 80 percent since 1970, according to CITES. Japan imports about 80 percent of the catch.
A single fish can weigh up to 650 kg (1,433 lb) and fetch more than $100,000. The fish is found in the north Atlantic and also in the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico.
"The abject failure of governments here at CITES to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna spells disaster for its future and sets the species on a pathway to extinction," said Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner Oliver Knowles.
France, Italy and Spain catch most of the tuna consumed by the global market.
In 2009, a quota of 19,950 tonnes of tuna was set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, but many fish are caught live in nets, transferred to farms and fattened before slaughter.
"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," said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group.
The CITES conference will vote on about 40 proposals for regulating trade in species including sharks, coral, elephants and polar bears.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 19 Mart 2010, 00:19