What happened to your promise to protect bluefin, M Sarkozy?

Posted by jossc — 23 September 2009 at 3:28pm - Comments

First of all, apologies to any non-French speakers watching this video, because it's not going to make any sense. So why do I want you to see it? Well, it's more just as supporting evidence (see the transcript below), because this is the statement made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on 16 July, in which he promised "complete French support regarding the listing of bluefin tuna to the international wild species convention, in order to ban any trade in this fish".

Yet only two months later, at a meeting of EU national representatives in Brussels on 21 September, the French government withdrew its support for a Monaco-led plan - effectively surrendering the initiative on the issue to the Italian and Spanish governments, who have shown themselves willing to hunt the species to commercial extinction.

This extraordinary volte face has me confused. Why go on record and commit yourself, only to change your mind within weeks? It makes M Sarkozy look weak at best, the only other explanation is that he's cynically using bluefin as a bargaining chip in economic negotiations with his southern neighbours.

Sarkozy's move means that the EU has effectively postponed taking a view on whether to place bluefin tuna on the endangered species list and effectively ban its trade. But the battle is not yet over - EU environment ministers are now expected to reach a final position by the end of the year - and a positive outcome is still a distinct possibility if France changes her position yet again.

"The blinkered attitude of Mediterranean governments would drive bluefin tuna to extinction and leave fishermen with nothing to fish in just a few years. But countries like Malta and Spain are increasingly isolated and there is a growing will among EU environment ministers to save this beautiful animal," said Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace's EU oceans policy director

Take Action

Please take a moment to send a letter (in French) to President Sarkozy to express your concern at  this move, and ask him to listen to scientific advice - and save bluefin tuna by supporting its listing as an endangered species.

Transcript of M Sarkozy's speech (my italics)

It was last April when Jean Louis Borloo announced the remarkable Sea Summit (Grenelle de la Mer).

You were gathered with Chantal Joineau and you proposed more than 600 concrete proposals on oceans.

These proposals will not fall on deaf ears. We will not accept that fishing disappears from our waters.

And it is because we want fishing to survive that we refuse to let our sea's natural resources disappear.

It is true that the threats concerning the existence of certain species, such as Bluefin tuna, cannot be ignored. But I want to go further.

The time has come, I believe, to base the entirety of our public decisions regarding the management of marine resources on the basis of reliable and independent scientific advices. Bruno Lemaire will kick off the next European negotiations on the common fishing policy reform based on these submitted scientific advice.

What I’m proposing is a change in fundamental structure.

One of the first ways that we will implement this change will be, let me announce it to you, the complete French support regarding the listing of bluefin tuna to the international wild species convention, in order to ban any trade in this fish. I am delighted that the Sea Summit has been allowed to advance towards the protection of this emblematic Mediterranean species that has been demanded for so long by the scientists that I personally received several months ago.

To all those who are worried about whether I will keep my promises, I would say to them: "do not worry, I would do everything that you didn’t do whilst you were in power. I would do it".

About Joss

Bass player and backing vox in the four piece beat combo that is the UK Greenpeace Web Experience. In my 6 years here I've worked on almost every campaign and been fascinated by them all to varying degrees. Just now I'm working on Peace and Oceans - which means getting rid of our Trident nuclear weapons system and creating large marine reserves so that marine life can get some protection from overfishing.

Follow Greenpeace UK