SPAIN has refused to back plans to introduce a worldwide ban on bluefin tuna fishing.
The EU had given its provisional support for the proposal, but Spain along with Malta, Cyprus, Italy, France and Greece opposed proposals supported by the other 21 member countries.
Dubbed ‘Club Med’ the group have antagonised environmentalists who believe that tuna stocks are so fragile they are now threatened by extinction.
The stance has been described as “deplorable” by Xavier Pastor, head of the Oceana Fisheries conservation lobby group in Europe.
Pastor said: “They are pushing tuna to the point of no return.”
The Spanish government has announced it intends to wait for the results of a scientific study before “adopting other conservation measures.”
The findings are due to be analysed at a meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas in November.
The European Commission had originally agreed to support the ban and was hopeful the EU would follow suit.
“As a result of both legal and illegal catches, the species has experienced a sharp decline and its conservation status is now very poor,” the commission had said.
Spain is home to Europe’s largest fishing fleet with some 200 trawlers dedicated to catching bluefin tuna.
Bluefin tuna stocks are now estimated to be below 18 per cent of the 1970 total.
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