e-is-for-extinct-6147_fullThe UN marked 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, but you wouldn’t know it by the recent activity of our world governments. It’s like they misread the memo…..'oh we’re suppose to wipe out as many species as possible this year?’ ‘Does that say conserve or consume?’ All sarcasm aside, I’m not exaggerating when I say that most of the world governments have looked at every proposed opportunity to protect our ailing marine species and have decided to do the opposite. To continue on as business as usual with no regard for what the future will hold for these species. The outcome of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Qatar that wrapped up last week has left me wondering if this should be more appropriately termed the year of extinction.

This blog has been following the bluefin tuna story very closely…..their overfishing, illegal fishing and decline; the failure of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) (often affectionately referred as the International Conspiracy to Catch All the Tunas) to manage bluefin fisheries; the proposal by Monaco to ban their international trade by listing them under CITES; the ongoing saga of EU countries deciding whether to support the proposal and with what stipulations; the disappointment in countries like Canada and Japan that vowed not only to not support the listing but to lobby others to follow their lead; and now, following the much anticipated CITES meeting, the vote by most governments in attendance AGAINST a trade ban on bluefin, hammering what may be the final nail in the coffin of this species.

 

cod-forgive-us
Photo by Meaghan Eady

 

I was actually participating in a funeral for Atlantic cod at a Sobeys in Halifax when I got the news and suddenly my mourning turned very real...for the cod, for the bluefin and for all the other species whose future seems uncertain at the hand of our current fisheries managers. We can’t take back what happened to the cod, but protecting the bluefin to allow stocks to recover until ICCAT put in place sound management measures was an opportunity to learn from such experiences, to look to the future instead of only thinking short-term, and to stand up and do what’s right for a species instead of only thinking with a pocket book. Bluefin tuna could be commercially extinct in the near future. The cod were commercially extinct when they collapsed in the early 90s….and look at them now. One stock will be FULLY EXTIRPATED (locally extinct) in less than 20 years under current pressure, and other stocks have yet to recover. Once one of the most abundant fisheries on earth and now disappearing from existence. And yet the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans was leading the charge at CITES against a listing of bluefin.

I mean, are our officials really that stupid? Do they think that despite the fact that stocks have declined by over 80%, everything will just work itself out? Are the interests of bluefin fishermen are more important than gambling with the future of a species? It’s shameful. Shame on you Minister Shea, the blood of the bluefin is on your hands.

Bluefin wasn't the only species that failed to receive the protection it needs at CITES. Governments failed on all accounts. Click here for the press release from the meeting where Greenpeace representatives were there to witness the disgrace.