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Bluefin tuna ban tops concerns at CITES endangered species meeting

The battle over a proposed bluefin tuna ban intensifies as the 175-nation Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) gets under way in Qatar.

By Jonathan AdamsCorrespondent / March 16, 2010

A wholesaler stands between frozen bluefin tuna laid out in rows at Tsukiji fish market, Japan's largest fish auction house, in Tokyo Saturday.

Issei Kato/Reuters

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The bluefin tuna battle is heating up, with Japan saying it has China's support in opposing a ban on trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna.

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If true, that would set the two Asian powers against the US and the European Union over the divisive issue.

Japan has been pushing its case as the meeting in Qatar of the 175-nation Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) gets under way, reports Agence France-Presse.

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Japan on Tuesday said it has China's support in opposing a global ban on trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna that is now being debated at an international meeting in Qatar.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu said that "we will do our best" to block a trade ban, which has US and European Union support, at the world talks on wildlife protection.

"China has not announced its stance officially, but is actively lobbying other countries to oppose" the ban, Akamatsu told reporters in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the radical antiwhaling group Sea Shepherd, fresh from its harassment of the Japanese whaling fleet, says it will now send ships to the Mediterranean to protect bluefin tuna by cutting fishing nets, reports Australia's ABC News.

The proposed ban is the hottest issue at the CITES gathering. The issue will be debated this week, but a vote won't likely come until next week. A two-thirds majority is needed to pass the ban.

The bluefin tuna ban is among a number of initiatives being considered at CITES because of growing concern over sustainability, according to the UN Environmental Programme.

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