Brussels: Brussels will on Monday propose that the 27 EU governments ban commercial bluefin tuna fishing by classifying the species as being under threat of extinction, sources close to the dossier said.
If the European Union backs the idea of reclassifying tuna, which is much in demand in Japan and elsewhere, then the bloc could take a united stance to the next meeting of the UN-backed wildlife trade agency CITES scheduled for Doha in March.
If CITES then backs the move to designate the heavily fished bluefin tuna as an endangered species, then a commercial fishing ban would automatically follow.
The EU Commission`s proposal will be made on the margins of a meeting of EU farm and fisheries ministers in Brussels on Monday.
Last week the European parliament voted to include bluefin tuna, 80 percent of which lands on Japanese plates after being caught, to be put on the endangered list.
France, the biggest producer of bluefin tuna for consumption, recently spoke in favour of a ban, but for a limited duration and not for another 18 months. But Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Malta continue to oppose a ban.
Last September a similar EU Commission initiative failed to win the necessary majority support from member states.
Earlier this month CITES said it supported a proposed ban on the international trade in bluefin tuna, which will be examined by its 175 national members next month.
Japan has opposed the ban, first proposed by Monaco.
Currently bluefin tuna, found in parts of the Atlantic and Mediterranean, is subject to fishing quotas of about 20,000 tonnes a year, but its stocks are highly prized.
A single fish, weighing about 650 kilogrammes, can currently fetch up to 120,000 dollars, according to CITES.
CITES regulates trade in some 34,000 species as well as ingredients or objects derived from them, including carvings, substances added to lipsticks or hairs used in brushes.