Fishing nations halt EU plan to save tuna
BRUSSELS — France, Spain, and other Mediterranean nations forced the European Union to retreat yesterday from an ambitious plan to save the threatened and prized bluefin tuna.
After drawn-out negotiations, the 27-nation EU abandoned a plan to seek cutbacks in fishing quotas based only on scientific advice and said yesterday it will now also consider the interests of tuna fishermen.
Representatives from 48 countries around the world are preparing to set fishing quotas for the Atlantic bluefin, whose tender red meat is popular in sushi in Japan. That meeting in Paris started Wednesday and continues through Nov. 27.
Bluefin tuna stocks in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean have dropped 60 percent from 1997 to 2007. The current Mediterranean fishing quota is 13,500 metric tons a year.
Some conservationists want quotas slashed at the international meeting, while others want fishing suspended entirely, saying that illegal fishing is rampant in the Mediterranean. The conservation group World Wildlife Fund says the species is “on the brink of extinction.’’
EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said her latest negotiating mandate “is not based on the commission’s proposal,’’ drawing on recommendations from scientists.
She did not say what quota the EU would press for at the meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.