Northeast - CITES Update

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02-19-2010, 02:31 PM
American Bluefin Tuna Association

CITES Update February 17, 2010

A great deal of confusion exists with the conflicting international press articles on the European Community and individual European state public commentaries. Malta and Spain remain committed to an anti-CITES listing. France and Italy’s positions are not clear. They appear to be searching for an 18 month moratorium on bluefin tuna fishing without a CITES listing. If this is accomplished this may make both eligible for an EC financial subsidy. Japan has announced that they will take a formal “Reservation” or objection to any CITES 1 listing. This will leave the worlds largest market open to accept bluefin from other countries also taking such a “reservation”. Or worse, encouraging countries to resume Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated catches (i.e. black market), that which ICCAT has made great progress on limiting over the years.

The US position on CITES is unclear given an apparent impasse between US Fish and Wildlife and NOAA. There is intense pressure from extreme environmental groups and certain congressional offices. You can be assured of one fact and that is that ABTA is in the middle of the key battles.

The ABTA web site ( is updated with anti-CITES letters from eastern seaboard state governments, please take the time to look them over, they represent a lot of ABTA work. Many of the letters that we have secured are publicly available and provide background argument opposing CITES. We are educating major bureaucracies on the potential and real long lasting damage to US bluefin fisheries and markets resulting from a CITES listing. ABTA is also active in legislative lobbing efforts on several other fronts, as these become successful we will update you.

I know we have asked for your financial support in the past and many of you have been very generous. Our fishery is under siege and if our enemies are successful, as well financed as they are, the fishery will be irreparably harmed for many, many years to come.

ABTA is in dire need of funds to continue this extremely expensive fight. We need representation at the CITES meeting in Doha, Quatar, this is a very expensive city and a costly place to get to. The end game is getting close and we need your help to finish. Please send donations and dues at this time to ABTA, PO Box 447, Salem, NH 03079.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at 603-898-8862 or Ralph Pratt (781-589-0815) or Steve Weiner (978-764-3637).

Sincerely, Rich Ruais

02-19-2010, 02:33 PM
I dont have any way to post it here, but wanted to say that a very strong letter has come out of Congress today opposing the listing. ABTA has been working hard on this and hopefully it can continue to work hard but we need support! See post above. Once the letter is put online I will post a link.

Letter was signed by:

Senator Olympia Snowe
Senator Susan Collins
Senator Judd Gregg
Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Senator Scott Brown

Rep. Walter Jones
Rep. Barney Frank
Rep. Chellie Pingree
Rep. Michael Michaud
Rep. John Tierney
Rep. Stephen Lynch
Rep. Bill Delahunt
Rep. Mike McIntyre
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter
Rep. Frank LoBiondo

If you are in the district of any of these members of congress, please thank them via email or a call.

(There are also a couple other individual letters going in from a few offices, will post about those when we get confirmation)

02-19-2010, 04:25 PM
good job chris beat me give me a call

02-20-2010, 04:02 AM
To anyone who is naive enough to think CITES will do anything to affect what most of the world does in terms of importing/exporting bluefin, this story should make it very clear how wrong you are:

Japan to ignore CITES (

Bottom line is that the US and Canada will pay the highest price for a listing. Hopefully the world will be smart enough to oppose this listing.

02-22-2010, 07:39 PM
Here is a press release that came out from Snowe's office the other day, which included the text of the letter that was mentioned in the post above. No way to attach a big PDF on this site so this will have to do:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) today sent a letter with 14 of her House and Senate colleagues to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Thomas Strickland, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, asking them not to support a proposal by the principality of Monaco to list bluefin tuna under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Flora and Fauna (CITES). In the letter, Snowe, the Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, cited the significantly strengthened management measures imposed by the International Commission on Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the body that sets international catch limits for bluefin and other species of Atlantic tuna, as well as the potential harm such a listing would cause to the U.S. tuna fleet.

“No one disputes that bluefin tuna is overfished, but a CITES listing would not change that status and would likely increase fishing pressure in areas of the world where bluefin populations are drastically depleted. Effective fishery management stems from adherence to scientifically-based catch limits. ICCAT showed a willingness to impose those limits at its most recent meeting last November, at which it committed to putting this fishery back on a path to long-term sustainability,” said Senator Snowe. “For years, U.S. fishermen have led the world in efforts to conserve highly migratory fish stocks such as bluefin tuna. It would be inappropriate and counter-productive to repay them for their stewardship by blocking access to the lucrative foreign markets, particularly when those markets will be filled with bluefin tuna harvested from weaker stocks.”

The other signatories to the letter are Senators Susan Collins (R, ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D, NH), Judd Gregg (R, ME), and Scott Brown (R, MA), and Representatives Walter Jones (R, NC), Barney Frank (D, MA), Michael Michaud (D, ME), Chellie Pingree (D, ME), William Delahunt (D, MA), Mike McIntyre (D, NC), John Tierney (D, MA), Joseph Lynch (D, MA), and Carol Shea-Porter (D, NH).

The full text of the letter follows:

Dr. Jane Lubchenco
National Oceanic and Atmospheric
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230

Mr.Thomas L. Strickland
Assistant Secretary of the Interior
for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks
U.S. Department of Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Dr. Lubchenco and Assistant Secretary Strickland:

In November 2009, the U.S. delegation to the International Commission on Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), led efforts that resulted in unprecedented restrictions on the harvest of Atlantic bluefin tuna, particularly in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. ICCAT’s actions at that meeting may have been inspired in part by Monaco’s proposal to list the species under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Prior to November, the U.S. took a wait-and-see position on co-sponsoring this proposal pending the outcome of the ICCAT meeting. Given the great strides ICCAT made toward sustainable management of Atlantic bluefin tuna, and the likelihood of a CITES listing leading to unintended consequences that would unfairly disadvantage U.S. fishermen and actually hinder swift recovery of the species, we ask you to refrain from supporting any petition to list the species under CITES Appendix I.

Prior to the ICCAT meeting, the Administration announced it would support but not co-sponsor Monaco’s proposal, though it would reconsider this decision if ICCAT “adopts significantly strengthened management and compliance measures.”[1] In November, ICCAT agreed to slash the quota of eastern bluefin to 13,500 metric tons for 2010 (meaning actual catch will not exceed12,000 metric tons after accounting for penalties for quota overages in 2009), and to impose an 11-month closure for purse seine vessels. Perhaps most importantly, this new agreement also commits to a quota for 2011 that will have at least a 60 percent probability of rebuilding Atlantic bluefin populations based on the new stock assessment that will be carried out in 2010. These provisions certainly constitute “significantly strengthened management” given that previous agreements had resulted in a single year’s harvest exceeding 60,000 metric tons as recently as 2005.

A CITES Appendix I listing would ban international trade in bluefin tuna by member states except those which choose to exercise an opt-out reservation. We believe this listing would ultimately prove ineffective while simultaneously causing disproportionate harm to the U.S. bluefin tuna fishery. Japan is the world’s single largest importer of bluefin, and the Japanese government has a documented history of taking reservations to CITES listings of marine species, including at least seven species of whales listed under Appendix I and two species of sharks listed under Appendix II. If Japan follows this trend and takes a reservation to a bluefin listing, it would be allowed to continue trading with other countries that also take a reservation. While the U.S. would certainly not exercise this option, other countries—including those fishing heavily on the depleted Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic stock—likely would follow Japan’s lead, thereby retaining access to this lucrative market. Such action would also provide fertile ground for a black market trade of bluefin that could be legally caught by other countries and laundered through those countries that take a reservation. Thus, the most depleted portions of the fish stock would suffer increased fishing pressure to make up for the drop in supply from the U.S. and other nations that abide by the CITES listing. Meanwhile the U.S. fishermen who have led the world in conservation of the species would be excluded from this market thereby bearing the brunt of a CITES listing’s economic impact.

Environmental groups and a NOAA Fisheries study[2] speculate that a ban on international trade could actually provide an economic boost to U.S. fishermen. We dispute this claim. The NOAA study asserts that the U.S. is a net importer of bluefin, but then goes on to make the erroneous assumption that the domestic market would be able to absorb the entirety of the U.S. catch should an international trade ban be implemented. Yet, NOAA’s study fails to acknowledge the seasonality of the U.S. catch. The bulk of the U.S. bluefin harvest occurs in five months between May and October, while the demand stretches throughout the calendar year. Because the U.S. lacks adequate freezer storage facilities to preserve bluefin in such a way that it retains its quality and value, our fishermen rely on the international market to absorb the supply generated in the summer and fall months. Absent this market, the price will plummet, and our coastal communities will suffer. In today’s economic climate, we cannot afford to effectively export fishing jobs to foreign nations, particularly those that lack the strong conservations standards that are a hallmark of U.S. fisheries management.

There is no question that Atlantic bluefin tuna is overfished. Last November, the international community, acting through ICCAT as the appropriate regional fishery management organization, took the necessary steps to put bluefin on an aggressive rebuilding trajectory by 2011. We laud the successful efforts of the U.S. delegation to force the hand of ICCAT by insisting on the necessary drastic reductions in catch limits. We ask that you honor those efforts to provide a sustainable future for this species by not supporting a CITES listing and giving ICCAT the opportunity to follow through on its commitment to do the right thing for the fish stock and for fishing communities.


[signatories listed above and in an earlier post in this thread]

02-23-2010, 10:08 AM
Story from GDT about CITES

Lawmakers fight tuna trade ban (

intrepid 24
02-23-2010, 10:48 AM
thanks for sharing that......
what the heck size can the eastern atlantic commercially sell anyway ??
i'm sure its way under 73"......

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