RIP bluefin tuna - Greenpeace calls for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean fishery

Marine reserves must replace rampant overfishing to avert the extinction of the stock

Press release - 30 August, 2006
Greenpeace activists today formed a symbolic 'tuna graveyard' with mock crosses and a banner saying "R.I.P. Bluefin tuna. 1996-2006" inside a tuna ranch in Cartagena, Southeast Spain. The environmental organisation has called for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery until it can be properly managed and the adoption of urgent measures, including the establishment of a network of marine reserves to protect 40% of the Mediterranean Sea and regenerate its fish stocks (1).

Greenpeace activists from the MY Rainbow Warrior form a symbolic 'tuna graveyard' with mock crosses and desplay a banner saying 'SOS Mediterranean' inside a tuna ranch in Cartagena, Southeast Spain.The environmental organisation has called for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery until it can be properly managed and the adoption of urgent measures, including the establishment of a network of marine reserves.

"Tuna ranches like this one are the cowboys of an industry that is directly responsible for wiping out the bluefin tuna from the Mediterranean Sea," said Greenpeace Spain's Sebastián Losada aboard Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, currently in Cartagena. (2) "A few greedy commercial interests, subsidised by the EU, are employing pirate fishing fleets and fattening tuna to fatten their own wallets. They are depriving hundreds of fishermen from trying to make a legitimate living from the bluefin tuna."

After facing the blockade of the port of Marseille by 25 industrial tuna fishing vessels last week, the Rainbow Warrior was also denied entry into the port of Cartagena this week. Greenpeace points to an apparent collusion between authorities and the tuna fishing industry. "To what extent will industrial tuna fishing and ranching businesses go to stifle public debate and censor environmental concerns based on scientific facts?," asked Greenpeace Spain's Sebastián Losada on board the Rainbow Warrior.

Cartegena is the last stopover on the Rainbow Warrior's 3-month tour of the Mediterranean Sea by Greenpeace. The tour has also confirmed the organisation's worst fears: that the most important fisheries on the high seas in the region are endangered by widespread illegal activities and the lack of enforcement of existing regulations.

Bluefin tuna is being plundered in the Mediterranean, and those ironically responsible are members of the Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the organisation supposedly tasked with managing the fishery (3). Driftnets, so-called "walls of death" -one of the most destructive fishing practices- are still being illegally used despite their prohibition (4). Rampant overdevelopment of the Mediterranean coastline in countries like Spain is also destroying coastal ecosystems (5).

"The Mediterranean is in desperate need of a sea change - literally. The large industrial fishing fleets are out of control, the tuna ranches are out of control, the illegal driftnetters are out of control, even the jellyfish are out of control, partly due to its main predators like tuna and sea turtles being wiped out," said Karli Thomas, of Greenpeace International. "A network of marine reserves would guarantee the protection of the Mediterranean species and their habitat and definitely help to reverse the fishery's decline."

The Greenpeace fleet of ships are all involved in the current activities, which are part of the organization's 15-month global Defending Our Oceans expedition. The fleet includes - the MY Esperanza tackling oceans pollution on the Philippines, the MY Rainbow Warrior confronting tuna fleets destroying the last of the great fish in the Mediterranean and the MY Arctic Sunrise, exposing the hidden face of illegal fishing of the North and Baltic Seas. The Defending Our Oceans expedition aims to highlight the wonders of and the environmental threats to the world's oceans and its campaigning for the establishment of marine reserves covering 40 % of the world's oceans.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems to drive solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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Other contacts: On board the Rainbow Warrior:Sebastián Losada, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace Spain, + +34 626 998 254/ +871 130 2412Amsterdam:Karli Thomas, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace International, +31 646 055 298Barcelona:Michael Kessler, Greenpeace International Communications, +34 660 637 053.

VVPR info: Greenpeace International Picture Desk:Franca Michienzi, +31 20 7182054/ +31 6 53819255 (m)Greenpeace International Video Desk:Martin Atkin 31 20 718 2000/ +31 627 000057 (m)

Notes: 1. See "Marine Reserves for the Mediterranean" report at "Where have all the Tuna Gone?" report at http:// The bluefin tuna industry:- has catches that exceed by at least more than 12,000 tonnes (37%) the legal quota;- has received EU subsidies as high as $34 million over the last decade;- has a capacity of tuna farming of at least 51,012 tonnes in the Mediterranean, exceeding by almost 60% the Total Allowable Catches adopted by the ICCAT: an indisputable incentive for illegal catches in the region.3. The next annual meeting of ICCAT takes lace in Croatia the 17th-26th of NovemberGreenpeace is calling on ICCAT to: - protect the breeding and feeding grounds of bluefin tuna; a recovery program that includes a substantial reduction in the bluefin tuna quota, and marine reserves to protect the breeding grounds of the species;- a minimum landing size that matches the sexual maturity of the species;- an extension of the seasonal closure of the fishery to guarantee a strong, immediate and enforceable decrease in the fishing effort;- independent observers on tuna fishing vessels and in tuna farms to record and report the catch to ensure that under-sized fish are not caught and the quota is not exceeded, and provide the information needed to manage the fishery in a sustainable manner.4. Driftnets are banned by both the European Union and United Nations5. See Destruction at all co[a]sts report at

Exp. contact date: 2006-09-30 00:00:00