Greenpeace activists attacked during protest against EU fishing vessel

Press release - 22 June, 2009
Greenpeace activists from the Rainbow Warrior have been violently attacked as they attempted to carry out a peaceful inspection of the Spanish fishing vessel, Cabo Tinoso Dos. The attack came as activists opened a banner, saying 'Bluefin Tuna Massacre', to highlight the unsustainable fishing activities of such vessels, part of the industrial fleets that threaten the entire bluefin tuna industry.

Greenpeace is calling on local authorities to carry out an official inspection of the vessel.

Management of bluefin tuna is entrusted to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), an intergovernmental organisation in which the European Union is an active and influential member. However, with this year's 'recovery plan' still allowing legal fishing at 47% above the upper sustainable limit(1), Greenpeace firmly believes that ICCAT's current policies are putting the species at risk of extinction.

"Oversized industrial fishing fleets are putting bluefin at risk of disappearing altogether," said Francois Provost, Greenpeace International Oceans Campaigner.  "Governments should establish fully protected marine reserves on the species' spawning grounds to start giving a chance for the population to recover."

Since 2006, ICCAT's own scientists have been ringing the alarm bell on the dire state of the bluefin tuna stock. They have advised not to fish above a maximum of 15,000 tonnes, and to protect the species' spawning grounds during the crucial months of May and June. The actual haul for 2007 has been estimated at 61,000 tonnes(2), twice the legal limit for that year, and more than four times the recommended level to avoid collapse of the bluefin tuna population. As industrial fleets continue to rampage across the spawning grounds, local people, who have been fishing for generations, are now reduced to transferring the last of an endangered species to pens, to be fattened before being exported to the other end of the world.

"It's time to take management of bluefin tuna away from ICCAT before it is too late," said John Hocevar, Oceans Campaign Director for Greenpeace USA, who is travelling on the Rainbow Warrior. "We want to see the Obama administration and other influential governments end international trade in this endangered species."

Greenpeace has just completed a monitoring survey of the Central Mediterranean purse seine fishing grounds. Preliminary findings show that after over a decade of massive overfishing, illegal catches are still a huge problem across the Mediterranean region.(3) Moreover, the amount and average size of the bluefin tuna captures are in serious decline, confirming the latest warnings of an imminent collapse of the stock.(4)

Greenpeace advocates the creation of a network of no-take marine reserves, protecting 40% of the world's oceans, as the long-term solution to the overfishing of tuna and other species, and the recovery of our overexploited oceans.

Other contacts: François Provost, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace International

John Hocevar, Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace USA

Saskia Richartz - Greenpeace EU oceans policy adviser
+3222741902, +32495290028

Yesim Aslan, Communications Officer at Greenpeace International

Greenpeace International Picture Desk: +447801615889

Notes: (1) Report from the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS)

(2) In November 2008 at the 16th Special Meeting of ICCAT, the European Union extracted an agreement on a Total Allowable Catch of 22,000 tonnes for the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery in 2009. See ICCAT Rec 08-05 - Recommendation amending the recommendation by ICCAT to establish a multiannual recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean

(3) On 30 April 2009, the Yasar Reis II, unauthorised to fish for bluefin tuna in either the Turkish or ICCAT registries, landed between 400 and 500 of 12 to 20 kg each.
Additional catches of juveniles have been reported here and here.

(4) Report from the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS)
WWF Mediterranean Tuna Collapse Trends - press release
WWF Mediterranean Tuna Collapse Trends - report