Thursday, March 25, 2010



It has been a pretty gloomy week for shark protection at the convention to protect endangered species, this year being held in Qatar. Although Japan pursued what it felt to be a princpled attack on the inclusion of marine species in CITES, particularly in the case of the sharks it is difficult to see how any other organisation could have been as effective in controlling the trade of sharks as CITES. However the reasons for this attack are explored in more detail in a piece published in The Economist later today.

After two weeks, what has the meeting to show for itself? A handful of iguanas and frogs, and a bettle, have trade protection. EU nations spent most of their time bickering between themselves, rather than lobbying other countries. The Americans went in with high hopes, but came out empty-handed, despite having a a big team here and having had several years to prepare. Japan was an effective force in getting exactly what it wanted. It helped, of course, that it takes a two-thirds majority to vote to grant a listing.

Although Appendix 1 listing for bluefin tuna would have been a good idea, it does seem that the organisation that currently manages the bluefin (ICCAT) is changing its tune, although the extent to which the secretariat can actually hold contracting parties to these words that follow remains unclear.

At the end of the CITES meeting, the chair of ICCAT, Fabio Hazin, said:

"the management measures adopted by ICCAT last year to rebuild this species and manage the fisheries were sound and in full conformity with the scientific advice. But much more important, Mr. Chairman, the measures adopted were not taken just as a way to escape from the risk of having the bluefin tuna listed by CITES. They were indeed the inauguration of a new era in ICCAT, in which management measures not in full conformity with scientific advice are no longer a possibility.

For those who have concern that ICCAT Contracting parties could have second thoughts in regard of the measures adopted last year, I can assure you that setting Total Allowable Catches beyond the levels scientifically advised as necessary to ensure sustainability of tuna stocks under ICCAT’s mandate shall no longer be acceptable to the CPCs [contracting parties]."

The fight for bluefin goes on to Paris in November.