Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Test case

I thought I'd upload this evening this photo Chuck Fox from Pew took of me surrounded with bluefin tuna, a few months ago at Tokyo Fish Market.

As soon as the IUCN announced two years ago that the World Conservation Congress would take place in Spain [one of the largest and most controversial fishing nations worldwide] environmentalists figured out that this entailed a combination of opportunities and threats.

Opportunity to highlight fisheries conservation issues in one of the largest fish consuming countries worldwide.

Threat because it was possible that the IUCN would be reluctant to address issues affecting short term private interests in the host country.

I could write about proposals tabled here in Barcelona regarding shark conservation, marine protected areas, whale conservation, the Arctic and Antarctica, seamounts, etc. But as from the terrace of the Members' Lounge we can all contemplate the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea, I'll focus today on the proposal to take measures necessary to secure the conservation of the highly endangered Mediterranean Bluefin tuna, including the designation of the waters adjacent to the Balearic Islands as a sanctuary for endangered bluefin tuna.

The plight of Mediterranean bluefin tuna is so compelling that it carries all the elements of an test case. An independent international panel made up of eminent experts from Australia, Japan and Canada stated recently that: "A simple reading of the state of the stocks under the purview of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) would suggest that ICCAT has failed in its mandate as a number of these key fish stocks are well below Maximum Sustainable Yield. However, the Panel is of the view that rather than ICCAT failing in its mandate it is ICCAT that has been failed by its members."

The fate of the draft motion on bluefin tuna will be a test-case of the ability of the IUCN Assembly to trigger solutions. Within Spain, the response of the Spanish Government delegation will also provide a hint to Spanish environmentalists about the true implications of the recent merger of the Fisheries and Environment Administrations of this country.

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