Bluefin tuna (BFT) may be getting listed as ‘most endangered’ under CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) at a meeting in Qatar this month. In a letter to Science, Jean-Marc Fromemtin says that if this action goes though,
…BFT will become the first commercially exploited marine species to be listed under Appendix 1. This could generate a revolution in fisheries management, as more than 100 exploited marine species are currently equally or more overfished than BFT—these include many species of sharks, rays, billfishes, sturgeons, salmons, eels, groupers, snappers, flat fish, deep-sea fish, gadoids, shrimps, and clams.
If this actually happens, it may indicate a coming shift from management organizations to CITES, which until potentially now, has never dealt with commercial ocean fisheries. The article in Science notes that there is not enough evidence to totally support a global ban on international trade of BFT, but contends that the science does support listing under Appendix 2 (which would lead to monitoring by CITES). The WWF seems to disagree. At the same upcoming meeting, Tanzania and Zambia will be petitioning the endangered species organization to allow the sale of stockpiled elephant ivory (reported in the same issue of Science), which some scientists believe could trigger widespread poaching in the region.
UPDATE: This BFT measure (along with one to protect polar bears) failed to pass at the meeting in Qatar. Read more here.
Science 12 March 2010:Vol. 327. no. 5971, pp. 1325 – 1326
Science 12 March 2010:Vol. 327. no. 5971, pp. 1331 – 1332