The pirate fishing vessel, Luna Rossa, cut off its illegal driftnet and fled from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. © Greenpeace / Gavin Parsons
There's an interesting story about Tuna over at the Greenpeace International blog today.

On the tail of the Rainbow Warrior's recent tour of the Mediterranean MaltaToday has been served with seven libel suits for daring to publish the facts about one of the great fisheries scandals in the region: tuna laundering. Last year, Malta exported 12 million kilograms of tuna to Japan -- the world's most lucrative market for prized tuna belly meat. There's just one wee little accounting problem, in that MaltaToday reports that's about 6 million kilograms more than the country's licensed tuna ranchers could actually produce.

Through a complicated shell game of ship re-flagging, unlicensed ranch expansion, dodgy catch transfers and illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, the Mediterranean tuna fishing industry is decimating their own livelihoods, bringing Bluefin tuna to the brink of commercial extinction -- a fact that we've been demanding action on for some time, and which was a major feature of our recent ship tour in the Med.

The regulated catch is bad enough: the European Commission and the regulatory body which govern tuna quotas have consistently ignored warning from their own scientific advisers and set legal quotas well above sustainable levels. But the legal catch is only part of the story.

And when MaltaToday decided to investigate the less-than-legal aspects of the local tuna industry, they stepped on some powerful tuna-touting-toes. The Maltese company Azzopardi and pals decided to wage a war on tenacious investigative journalism. The result, as one might imagine (but apparently Azzopardi did not anticipate) has been a series of damning articles on the company's illegal business ventures and dodgy dealings, a front page spread and a major editorial which concludes "This newspaper will stand up and be counted and will not bow down to pressure from this powerful industry."

Now THAT'S the kind of journalistic courage we like to see.

Here is the latest editorial from MaltaToday, including a promise to bring in Greenpeace to attest to the tuna industry's crimes against the environment.

Tuna is one of the fish listed in our NZ Red Fish List. There's three criteria for a fish to be listed in the Red and Tuna definitely falls into two of them:

  • They are commonly sourced from overfished and depleted stocks, or are being fished at such a high rate that stocks are being depleted rapidly
  • The fishing methods used to catch the fish are often highly destructive to other oceans creatures and/or habitats.