Thursday

28th May 2020

Mediterranean countries block tuna fishing ban

The European Union has abandoned its plans to push for a temporary ban on fishing for bluefin tuna, loved by sushi fans but severely overfished, after strong opposition from Mediterranean countries.

National experts from EU member states met on Monday (21 September) to consider a proposal from the European Commission to back a pause in the fishing of the species, but France, Spain, Italy, Malta, Greece, and Cyprus baulked at the suggestion, even though France had earlier said it would back the plan.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Bluefin tuna is severely overfished (Photo: Jim Barter)

As a result of the obstruction, led by Spain and Malta, the officials were unable to reach the necessary majority to adopt the commission's recommendation.

The EU executive on 9 September had proposed that the bloc co-sponsor alongside non-EU country Monaco a temporary suspension on international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The ban through a CITES listing would give the fish a chance to recover, the commission argued.

The proposal to list the tuna as an endangered species was originally tabled by Monaco in July at the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the inter-governmental body responsible for the conservation of tuna.

At the time, French President Nicolas Sarkozy backed Monaco's suggestion alongside a number of other EU states, including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Austria.

Monday's move postpones a decision on whether to place bluefin tuna on an endangered species list. EU environment ministers are now expected to reach a final position by the end of the year.

Conservationists were frustrated by the reversal.

"The blinkered attitude of Mediterranean governments would drive bluefin tuna to extinction and leave fishermen with nothing to fish in just a few years," said Saskia Richartz, a campaigner with Greenpeace in Brussels.

"But countries like Malta and Spain are increasingly isolated and there is a growing will among EU environment ministers to save this beautiful animal," she added.

EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas issued a statement in which he said he "regrets the decision".

"The commission has expressed its grave concerns about the state of stocks of the fish, which are rapidly declining after decades of overfishing," the statement continued.

Romania blasted over animal export conditions

Romania, EU's largest exporter of live farm animals to third-countries, gets singled out in the latest European Commission report for bad practices - following the drowning of more than 14,000 sheep last November.

EU alliance calls for green recovery plan

Some 180 European politicians, business leaders, MEPs and environmental activists have called for green recovery investment packages to develop "a new model of prosperity" after the pandemic ends.

Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU

Europe is on the verge of allowing centralisation and concentration of farming data at an unprecedented scale, with the absence of any regulation, NGO Friends of the Earth have warned.

What will Brexit mean for climate action in EU and UK?

The UK is leaving the EU after playing a key role in climate action - just as COP26 comes to Glasgow. With so many policy negotiations ahead, a split between London and Brussels post-Brexit could undermine the 2050 emissions-neutrality goal.

Timmermans: EU climate law will 'discipline' rogue states

The first EU-wide climate law will be a "disciplining" exercise to implement the Green Deal - although the Polish climate minister Michal Kurtyka warned the EU Commission about the social cost of delivering the green transition.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission updates working programme for 2020
  2. EU Commission proposes €750bn recovery fund
  3. EU and Japan in favour of WHO reform
  4. Former top diplomat Mogherini takes over EU college
  5. Denmark partly reopens borders to love
  6. France unveils €8bn 'electric' rescue for car industry
  7. Frontex set for Serbia and Montenegro launches
  8. US military: Russia sent jets to Libya to help mercenaries

What will Brexit mean for climate action in EU and UK?

The UK is leaving the EU after playing a key role in climate action - just as COP26 comes to Glasgow. With so many policy negotiations ahead, a split between London and Brussels post-Brexit could undermine the 2050 emissions-neutrality goal.

Timmermans: EU climate law will 'discipline' rogue states

The first EU-wide climate law will be a "disciplining" exercise to implement the Green Deal - although the Polish climate minister Michal Kurtyka warned the EU Commission about the social cost of delivering the green transition.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Mix of loans and grants in Commission €750bn package
  2. EU recovery agreement deal may need 'personal' summit
  3. Little love, as Berlin bids 'auf Wiedersehen' to Trumpism
  4. Future of Europe Conference: Council urged to move now
  5. Lobbyist register to be tightened after Monsanto case
  6. Hawks to doves? Germany's new generation of economists
  7. Is Russia manipulating food supplies during pandemic?
  8. How Kaczyński ruined Poland, judges tell MEPs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us