Big trouble for bluefin tuna

Feature story - June 14, 2010
By now it ought to be obvious to anyone - if we want bluefin tuna tomorrow we need to stop catching them today. But despite the clear scientific evidence and predictions of the bluefin's demise - our activists faced a 2 hour confrontation at sea today when they took action to ensure fish for the future.

An aerial view of French fishermen ramming a Greenpeace inflatable during a peaceful direct action to stop bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean last week. Activists from the Greenpeace ships Rainbow Warrior and the Arctic Sunrise launched high speed inflatable boats in an attempt to submerge one side of a purse seine fishing net to free the trapped tuna. As the action started on the French vessel, Jean Marie Christian 6, the other tuna vessels rushed in to stop the peaceful activists, injuring one Greenpeace activist and sinking one Greenpeace inflatable boat.

We launched the non-violent direct action from our two ships, the Arctic Sunrise and the Rainbow Warrior, to free bluefin tuna from a large cage bound for a Mediterranean tuna farm. A dramatic two-hour scene ensued with fishermen firing flares and threatening activists with knives. Meanwhile the Maltese Navy joined the fray firing water cannons from a ship and surveying with a helicopter.


The Arctic Sunrise and the Rainbow Warrior were involved in the non-violent direct action today but your help is needed to protect the tuna.

 From 7 inflatable boats activists attempted to release tuna from the cage as the Arctic Sunrise went on top of the net to lower it. But with the bluefin tuna fishermen intent on protecting their short-term profits and the Maltese navy more keen to defend private interests than the future of this fishery - it became impossible for us to release the fish.

Time out for tuna

We are taking action in the Mediterranean because governments are failing to do so. Releasing bluefin tuna is the only responsible thing to do, for the future of the fish and the future of our oceans. We will confront any and all parts of the Mediterranean bluefin fishery, the most visible example of how politics and fisheries management are failing our oceans.

Over 80 percent of bluefin stocks are estimated to have been fished out of the Mediterranean since industrial fishing in this area began. Ranching operations, like the one Greenpeace confronted today, fatten tuna in order to maximize profits, and continue to increase demand for endangered bluefin tuna.

The European Commission did order some large-scale bluefin fishing vessels back to port early (because they had aggressively fished their quota in just a few days), but that's hardly enough when the science tells us NO fishing should take place on such an endangered stock.

Ban on bluefin

The world needs to see a ban on bluefin tuna fishing until stocks recover. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the fisheries management body responsible for pushing bluefin to the brink of extinction, must also prove itself capable of being more than an "international disgrace." That particular compliment came from an independent review ICCAT itself commissioned in 2009.

We have been sounding the alarm on the state of Mediterranean tuna stocks for years. We will continue to take non-violent, direct action until governments live up to their responsibility to safeguard the future of these fish and the livelihoods that depend on them.

As the bluefin tuna spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico are accidentally devastated by the oil spill - the bluefin in the Mediterranean are being intentionally obliterated by industrial fishing. Take action to protect the bluefin here by calling for the creation of a marine reserve in a key region of the Med.

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