Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A la carte sustainability

What I find most discouraging about this week's failure of the Parties to Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to protect Mediterranean bluefin tuna is not only that -- like Richard Black -- I will have a terrible feeling of gilt if I take "a strip or two of bluefin tuna sashimi" [or a terrible frustration if I behave like a responsible consumer in abstinence].

What is worst is that by acting against the advice of its own scientists, the European Union is losing the moral high ground in the global environmental policy debate. [I'm not even talking of the Sarkozy EU Presidency which was supposedly going to be greener than green!]

As WWF's Sergi Tudela [who's spent the best years of his life on this issue] says, we can't even "save this fishery from itself".

We all need to reflect on this collective failure of the environmental community. Governments have been off the hook because they've managed to hide behind ICCAT, an obscure acronym with no resonance in the wider public. Look at ICCAT's website today: it's business as usual, they don't even seem to feel the need to give an explanation. And at the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries: same thing, not a word to explain what they did, or did not do [not a word either, on the French Presidency website].
Joe Borg, the EU Fisheries Commissioner is left alone to try and sell as a success what everyone knows is a failure.

The European Union needs to get its acts together fast, because the days when they could hide behind the Bush administration to look good on environmental issues are over. The environmental community also needs to adapt to the times ahead, because US bashing [or Japanese bashing on fisheries] isn't gonna work anymore.

A la carte sustainability isn't good enough. Can you bring me the set menu, please?

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