The European Commission has announced a compromise deal that will back attempts to list bluefin tuna as an endangered species because of over-fishing. The move, which will is expected to lead to a ban on international trade in the fish, had been resisted by Malta and EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg.

Environmentalists have welcomed the decision, saying it would allow tuna to recover from overfishing in the Mediterranean. They said that stocks were down to 18 percent of 1970 levels.

Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria favour a complete trade ban but the decision had been fiercely resisted by Malta, described in the international press as the 'capital of the bluefin industry' as well as Spain and Italy.

Dr Borg had been calling for time to be allowed for a bluefin recovery plan agreed by the International Convention on the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

The compromise was reached after Dr Borg backed down and the Commission agreed to back a proposal for a ban, subject to the latest assessment of stocks from Iccat in November. It had been thought that Dr Borg would be outvoted should the issue have come up for a vote in the Commission.

Malta had been resisting the decision because of its large aquaculture sector, which relies heavily on bluefin tuna exports.

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