Rainbow Warrior To Set Sail to Shut Down Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna Fishing:

Activists Demand Bluefin Fishing Halt and call for Marine Reserves to Allow for Recovery

Press release - 15 May, 2010
Valetta, Malta. The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior intends to depart tomorrow on a campaign to defend the Mediterranean and halt destructive bluefin tuna fishing operations.

As the most visible example of how oceans and fishery management are leading to disaster,
Mediterranean bluefin tuna [1] fishing has brought the species to the brink of extinction. Scientists have warned of the imminent collapse of the bluefin tuna fishery if fishing continues. The species must be allowed time to recover.

"Politics and fishery management have failed our oceans and set the bluefin tuna on a one-way path to extinction," said Oliver Knowles, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner. "Others have failed our oceans, so Greenpeace will act. The Rainbow Warrior is now heading to sea to take action against one of the most irresponsible and destructive fishing operations in the world, to demand that the Mediterranean bluefin fishery be closed immediately. We will enforce the repeated recommendations of scientists. If we want bluefin tuna and healthy oceans tomorrow, we need marine reserves today."

The crisis facing our oceans and the bluefin tuna requires urgent action: the scientific consensus is that over 80% of the species has already been fished. If current fishing rates continue, scientists predict that the bluefin could disappear as a commercial species in just a few years. Globally, over 90% of large fish such as tuna have disappeared from our oceans, and some scientists warn that 80% of commercial fisheries are already exploited [2]. As a necessary first step to bluefin tuna recovery and to restoring our oceans to health, Greenpeace is calling for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean bluefin fishery, by setting bluefin fishing quotas to zero until the species can be shown to have recovered. Greenpeace is also demanding that oceans governance- including for the Mediterranean- be reformed to include a fully protected network of marine reserves.

Governments gathered at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in March failed to approve a ban on the lucrative trade in Atlantic bluefin meat, a measure which could have helped avert rapid bluefin tuna extinction. Instead short term interests were put ahead of the long term survival of the species.

“Time and tuna are running out and urgent action to save our oceans is needed now from governments and the public. Consumers must not buy or eat bluefin tuna and governments should put healthy oceans ahead of short-term profits by changing fishing policies and creating marine reserves,” added Knowles.

On Wednesday, Greenpeace activists delayed the departure of three bluefin tuna fishing vessels from the port of Frontignan, France. The vessels were among those with the highest quotas in the French bluefin tuna fishing fleet.

Greenpeace is campaigning to establish a global network of marine reserves- areas of ocean off-limits to fishing, mining, drilling and other extractive activities- to cover 40 percent of the world’s oceans, including the Mediterranean. This is a necessary step to restoring our oceans and fish stocks back to health.

For more information, contact:

Oliver Knowles, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner +44 7545 007 631

Steve Smith, Greenpeace International communications +31 643 787 359

For photo, contact John Novis, Greenpeace International picture desk +44 7801 615 889

For video, contact Maarten van Rouveroy, Greenpeace International video desk +31 646 197 322

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[1] Northern Atlantic Bluefin tuna is fished in the Mediterranean using purse-seine nets, long-liners and other destructive fishing methods. The fishing season this year runs from 16 May until 15 June 2010.

[2] The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation's 2008 "State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture" reports that "Overall, 80 percent of the world fish stocks for which assessment information is available are reported as fully exploited or overexploited..." can be found here:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/011/i0250e/i0250e00.htm