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Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Key objectives for the Conference of the Parties to the CITES (debate)

  Sirpa Pietikäinen, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, with regard to CITES decision making, I am a firm believer that the decision-making procedure should be transparent and it should be purely based on sound scientific facts. That is behind Parliament’s resolution concerning polar bears, elephants, tigers, big Asian cats and sharks.

With particular regard to the question of listing bluefin tuna on Appendix I of the CITES convention, I would like to raise a couple of issues. Firstly, a broad majority of the scientific community agrees with the need for a ban on international trade to ensure the future existence of the species. According to ICCAT, the current spawning stock biomass is less than 15% of what it was before fishing began. From these scientific estimates, it follows that there is a very realistic fear that spawners might become virtually extinct by 2012.

A majority of the FAO ad hoc expert advisory panel considered that the available evidence supported the proposal to include Atlantic bluefin tuna in CITES Appendix I, and further stated that the listing would at least ensure that recent unsustainable catches in the east Atlantic and Mediterranean were reduced. Due to the fact that the panel needs to take unanimous decisions, and due to heavy resistance from Japan, this was not the panel’s final suggestion. However, the view of the unquestionable majority of the panel cannot be disregarded. Furthermore, on the basis of scientists’ decisions, it clearly concluded that the criteria for the inclusion of bluefin tuna in the CITES Appendix I have been met.

This is a matter of political opinion in several cases but, on the matter of biodiversity and extinctions, we cannot compromise and we cannot haggle. When there are no fish, there is no catch.

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