Japan braces for Atlantic bluefin tuna ban

March 12, 2010 at 4:28 PM

TOKYO, March 12 (UPI) -- Japan is preparing for a ban on international sales of Atlantic bluefin tuna, which has become more likely with a vote in support from the European Union.

Representatives of the 175 countries that have signed the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species could approve the ban at a meeting starting Sunday in Qatar, The Asahi Shimbun reports. Japan, which consumes about four-fifths of the bluefin tuna caught every year, is the leading opponent of a ban and has been lobbying against it.

"While it remains to be seen how things will develop, there is a 50 to 60 percent chance the ban will be adopted," said Yoshio Kaneko, who formerly headed the CITES secretariat at the United Nations.

The EU switched its position on a ban Wednesday, giving the proposal from Monaco 27 votes in favor. The ban needs approval from two-thirds of the CITES signatories.

Italian and French growers of farmed tuna recently said they would rather go out of business, receiving government financial aid. Farmed tuna is grown from young fish caught in the Mediterranean.

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