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Mediterranean countries fail again to protect bluefin tuna


La Valletta, Malta — The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior arrived this morning to the port of La Valetta (Malta) after five weeks documenting and reporting the activities of bluefin tuna fishing fleets in the central Mediterranean. Greenpeace has found evidence of widespread illegal activities in contravention of the regulations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) (1).

"This is yet another year of a fishery out of control,” said Sebastian Losada, Greenpeace Spain oceans campaigner. “It is a mockery that the new management rules agreed by the international community to halt illegal fishing have only entered into force two weeks before the fishing season comes to an end. But it is even worse that we have demonstrated that they are not even being respected.”

In addition to the Rainbow Warrior’s presence in the Mediterranean fishing ground, Greenpeace has been monitoring several ports and airports in the region. Greenpeace has documented the activity of Tunisian, Italian and French fishing vessels operating in the area, as well as a multinational fleet of vessels such as tug boats and support vessels taking part in operations linked to the bluefin tuna farming industry.

Last week, Greenpeace showed that the use of spotter planes to find tuna schools is still common in the area, despite being banned under the new bluefin tuna recovery plan agreed by ICCAT. The Rainbow Warrior documented the fishing activities of three Italian purse seine fishing vessels surrounded by spotter planes during their entire fishing operation (2).

Greenpeace also found several Tunisian purse seiners operating without a license. These vessels are not included in the ICCAT register of vessels authorised to fish for tuna species in the region (3).

Transhipment activities (transfer of cargo for shipment) also seem to be common in the area, despite the fact that they are one of the main ways in which illegal catches are laundered (4). On June 11 Greenpeace observed the transhipment at sea of bluefin tuna between the Italian fishing vessel Vergine del Rosario and the refrigerated cargo vessel Daniela, flagged to Panama. On June 12 the French vessel Jean Marie VI transferred its cargo to the Panamanian flagged reefer Astraea 102. These transhipments took place just a few hours before the new ICCAT management plan entered into force (5).

Yesterday, June 20, Greenpeace found the Panama flagged reefer Daniela in the middle of the fishing ground, showing that reefers continue to carry out at sea operations despite the current ban on transhipments.

“The plan agreed by ICCAT countries allocates quotas at twice the level recommended by their own scientists. It simply does not deserve the name ‘recovery plan’,” said François Provost, Greenpeace France oceans campaigner onboard the Rainbow Warrior. “Greenpeace is demanding the immediate closure of the bluefin tuna fishery, a management plan that is in line with scientific advice, and the creation of a network of fully protected marine reserves to protect the Mediterranean Sea”.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of fully protected marine reserves covering 40% of our oceans as an essential way to protect the full range of marine life and restore the health of fish stocks.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems to drive solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.


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