The Bluefin Tuna, used to cook the popular Japanese dish, sushi, has moved from the plate to the global discussion table.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a body of 175 nations, meets on March 13 in Doha, Qatar, to debate its ban.
India has its conditions for supporting the move; Japan, which consumes over 70 per cent of the fish, will not give it up.
The bluefin tuna population has dipped to 60 per cent in the last decade.
An unnamed Japanese official said they would ignore the ban if it was passed. Farm and Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu said it was a “clear no”.
To get the ban through, one-third of the countries participating in CITES has to agree.
“We can support the ban,” said an Indian environment ministry official. “Our policy has been to save endangered species.”
But India wants some changes in the proposal.
“Put the tuna first on appendix two, after some years, if required, on appendix one,” said a negotiator.
Tigers and elephants, for example, in appendix one are banned from international trade whereas those in appendix two can be traded but after a government commitment to conserve the threatened species.
Monaco, the main backer of the ban, said in its proposal that “the remaining populations represent 10-20% of virgin biomass. The fish may not be able to survive for another decade, if the present fishing is allowed.”
While the tuna ban is expected to dominate the 12-day CITES conference, the UK and India is campaigning for a crackdown on tiger farms in China, and the US is calling for stricter rules to stop the sale of skins of polar bears.