Oceana: Bluefin Tuna Fishing Continues in Mediterranean
The environmental group Oceana said yesterday that bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean continues despite the European Commission's decision last week to halt this year's Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna harvest to prevent overfishing.
Vessels flying the flags of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy and Malta were prohibited from catching bluefin tuna as of June 16, and a ban for Spanish vessel went into effect yesterday. The commission has rejected calls to lift the ban.
But Oceana's MarViva Med vessel reported yesterday that it spotted a group of Turkish vessels accompanied by tug boats with tuna fattening cages, as well as two vessels flying Greek flags, the purse seiner Aigaion and the tug boat Kentavros.
"Despite the emergency closure of the fishery, European purse seiners continue activities at sea, illegally fishing and transshipping," says Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe. "If the vessels are not tied up in port and considering the current crisis caused by high fuel prices, the obvious question that comes to mind is: Who goes to sea if not for financial gain?"
"The attitude of some EU member states regarding the closure highlights the lack of political will to preserve bluefin tuna stocks and ensure the implementation of the recovery plan in place for this species," adds Pastor, who is aboard the MarViva Med.
European Union fisheries managers are discussing the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery today.