France - fishing

France supports bluefin tuna ban in 18 months

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France supports a ban on trade in bluefin tuna to come into force in 18 months time. According to French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo it is a "difficult" decision, but one that is "necessary".

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Paris supports a proposal by Monaco to add bluefin tuna to an appendix of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

And an 18-month delay on trade in bluefin tuna is intended to give scientists extra time to compile reports and put plans in place for the tuna fishing vessels.

Bluefin tuna, which can swim at speeds of up 100 kilometres per hour and grow to up to four metres in length, have been particularly affected by Japanese demand for sushi and sashimi with populations dwindling, due to overfishing.

But environment group Greenpeace criticised the 18-month delay saying it was "absurd". They asked why the government would want to "save the tuna, but not right away".

In a statement Greenpeace suggested that the government was buying peace with the fishing industry ahead of regional elections, despite the delay allowing another two seasons of tuna fishing.

Meanwhile, the head of the Mediterranean Tuna Fishing union, Mourad Kahoul, called for an urgent meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday.

After discussions at the Department of Agriculture, Kahoul said he was in a state of “shock” and said he saw, “a big crisis”.

Environmentalists warn that continued overfishing could lead to the extinction of the species.

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