Overfishing of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean may be leading to collapse of the population.
We've followed some of the most important fishing fleets in
theregion. The news isn't good. We spent a week with Spanish and
Frenchfishermen in the waters north of Egypt. In the entire time,
not asingle tuna was caught. We waited with them to find tuna. We
saw themstanding with empty nets.
Insouthern Turkey, fishermen are reporting lower catches and
smallerfish. They've only been fishing intensively in the region
for fiveyears, and already they are seeing the effects. The
fishermen areworried, and so are we. All evidence points to the
desperate state ofthe fishery for the whole region.
In May, we issued a reportdetailing the problems facing bluefin
tuna in the Mediterranean. Ourresearch found that up to 45,000
tonnes of tuna is being caught everyyear - as much as 13,000 tonnes
(29 percent) over the legal limit. How is this possible? As we
discoveredby speaking to fishermen, it's a combination of
underreporting,quota-swapping deals between countries and general
Greed before science
TheInternational Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic
Tuna (ICCAT)allocates fishing quotas to different Mediterranean
countries. Thelevels that they allocate are already over what
scientists recommend. Most countries don't have data on what tuna
their ships catch, and ifthey do it's frequently underreported.
Large fishing fleets areencroaching on tuna breeding and feeding
areas. High-tech fishingpractices, sometimes carried out
illegally, leave no chance for thefish.
Tuna fished out of the Mediterranean are towed in cages totuna
ranches in the region. Once they're in the cages, these seagiants
are swimming sushi. The intensive fish farms pollute the
localcoastline, and are incredibly wasteful. It can take up to
20kg of baitto produce 1kg of tuna. This bait is less marketable
fish brought into feed them from other regions, and it can bring
new diseases with it.
Literally, a race to catch the last fish
TheMediterranean tuna ranches are in the hands of a few key
investors. This story is a classic example of short-term gain for
long-termdamage, and the major players are not the fishermen who've
been fishingtuna sustainably in the region for thousands of
There's ageneral pattern collapse of fish populations, like the
cod and Westernbluefin tuna, where fishing increases and methods
become moresophisticated as catches go down. It looks like
Mediterranean bluefintuna are going the same way.
What we know now
"Amonth ago we asked the question: Where have all the tuna gone?
Well,now we know the answer - we may be witnessing the collapse of
thebluefin tuna stock from the Mediterranean Sea," said Sebastián
Losadaof Greenpeace Spain aboard the Esperanza.
We are calling on thecountries of the Mediterranean to protect
bluefin tuna with marinereserves in their breeding and feeding
areas. They would become part ofa global network of marine parks
across 40 percent of the world'soceans that are needed to give the
oceans a chance to recover fromdecades of large-scale industrial
The Esperanza iscontinuing its global Defending Our Oceans
tour. From here we headinto the Red Sea, but our sister ship, the
Rainbow Warrior willcontinue the work in the Mediterranean.
Read updates from the Rainbow Warrior.
up as an Ocean Defender.