March 18, 2010

Mixed Environmental News

Today's New York Times piece "UN Rejects Export Ban on Atlantic Bluefin Tuna" is generally discouraging...but also slightly promising.

It's discouraging to read, because the news is bad:
"A U.S.-backed proposal to ban the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna prized in sushi was rejected Thursday by a U.N. wildlife meeting, with scores of developing nations joining Japan in opposing a measure they feared would devastate fishing economies. It was a stunning setback for conservationists who had hoped the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, would give the iconic fish a lifeline. They joined the proposal's sponsor Monaco in arguing that extreme measures were necessary because the stocks have fallen by 75 percent due to widespread overfishing.

'Let's take science and throw it out the door,' said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy with the Pew Environment Group in Washington. 'It's pretty irresponsible of the governments to hear the science and ignore the science. Clearly, there was pressure from the fishing interests. The fish is too valuable for its own good.'"
The report is also slightly promising, however, because the United States has again positioned itself as a proponent of conservation measures.
"Only the United States, Norway and Kenya supported the proposal outright. [...] The tuna defeat came hours after delegates rejected a U.S. proposal to ban the international sale of polar bear skins and parts, suggesting that economic interests at this meeting were trumping conservation.

The Americans argued that the sale of polar bears skins is compounding the loss of the animals' sea ice habitat due to climate change. There are projections that the bear's numbers, which are estimated at 20,000 to 25,000, could decline by two-thirds due by 2050 due to habitat loss in the Arctic."
The end result, then, is by no means a happy one...but what a welcome policy change from the days of Bush & Company!?

Note: A version of this post also appears on Hungry Hyaena.

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