21 Mar 2010

NZ defends decision not to vote for bluefin tuna ban

12:11 pm on 21 March 2010

The New Zealand Government is defending its decision to vote against a ban on trading Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Greenpeace has criticised the decision, saying it will be the death knell of the species.

But the Government says the ban, negotiated under a United Nations convention known as CITES, would have done little to safeguard the fish.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says even if had been passed, signatory countries would have been entitled under UN convention to add reservations allowing them to keep fishing.

An official in Mr McCully's office says the Government accepts scientific evidence that Atlantic bluefin tuna is under threat, but there has to be a better way to deal with the problem than the trade ban proposed by CITES.

He says the Government favours regional fishing agreements signed by countries adjacent to specific stretches of water. These, he says, are far more workable.