Greenpeace claims boat attacked by tuna fishermen


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
June 22, 2009

Greenpeace activists aboard the campaign vessel Rainbow Warrior were attacked as they tried to inspect Spanish fishing vessel Cabo Tiñoso Dos for illegal tuna catches in Malta’s southern Mediterranean Sea, the group claimed Monday.

As the activists visited Cabo Tiñoso Dos in inflatable boats, they unfolded a placard with the motto "Massacre of red tuna" denouncing the ship’s unsustainable fishing as they tried to carry out an onboard inspection. Crew onboard the Spanish vessel, owned by the Murcia-based company Ricardo Fuentes & Sons, refused to show Greenpeace its documentation guaranteeing that it had a legal right to be fishing for tuna in Maltese waters.

John Hocevar, oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA, from the Rainbow Warrior on 19 June, wrote: “The fishermen are pretty angry — about the disappearing fish, and about the regulations that have been put in place to try to stop the declines. As we approached, the captain got more and more animated the closer we got, shouting, pointing and even turning color, threatening to shoot us if we didn’t leave immediately.”

The Rainbow Warrior was in Malta sampling the impact of illegal fishing in the region. The group has petitioned the Maltese authorities to carry out an inspection of the ship to document its illegal fishing activities. The results of Greenpeace’s first research following a decade of over-fishing in the area shows that medium-size red tuna captures are seriously declining, “confirming the imminent collapse of the species,” said Hocevar. 

"The fleets’ industrial fishing grounds are leading the fishing of red tuna into a risky situation that will cause this species to collapse," declared Celia Ojeda, Oceans campaign director for Greenpeace Spain. “Governments should establish a marine reserve that protects the spawning place and young of this species, giving it an opportunity for recovery." 

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