Activist injured during attempt to save bluefin tuna

Feature story - 4 June, 2010
As bluefin tuna fishing began in the Mediterranean today, just south of Malta - we set out to rescue endangered fish trapped inside a massive purse seine net. But our boats and activists were met with violence as several fishing vessels closed in on them.

Violent response

A Greenpeace inflatable sinks as activists are attacked by industrial fishermen


Having found a fishing vessel – the Jean-Marie Christian 6 - towing a purse-seine net, we launched inflatable boats from our ships the Rainbow Warrior and Arctic Sunrise with the intention of submerging one side of the net to free the tuna trapped within. Other tuna vessels in the area immediately confronted and attacked our activists. One activist was seriously injured when the spike of a grappling hook was stabbed straight through his leg. He is now being evacuated for emergency care. Flares were also fired directly at our activists. Two of our inflatable boats were slashed with knives and one sank after being rammed and then run over by fishing vessels. Another inflatable was badly damaged and several of our activists had to be rescued from the sea.

ACT NOW: Join the call for a marine reserve in the Mediterranean for the bluefin tuna!

Warning signs ignored

Inaction of the industrialised North and international regulatory bodies is essentially condeming this key species to extinction. Many, including Greenpeace and leading scientists, have warned for years that without urgent action - the bluefin will disappear. The Med region’s bluefin fishery must be closed immediately to allow bluefin tuna time to recover from decades of overfishing. This decline has been predominately caused by the purse seining method of fishing.

The failure of the latest meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to declare a ban on sales of this type of tuna has made the situation even worse. The European governments along with Japan know well that there is abundant and unquestionable evidence of overfishing - yet they once again put shorterm profits before logic.

We are trying to shut down this fishing operation to protect our oceans and the future of the bluefin tuna. We are taking action where politicians and fisheries managers refuse.

Time to act

And we will continue to take non-violent action at sea throughout the rest of the Mediterranean tuna fishing season which ends on June 15.

Greenpeace is demanding that the bluefin quota for the Mediterranean Sea be set to zero and that fishing operations targeting the species end immediately. Additionally, the bluefin spawning grounds, like the Balearic Islands, must be set aside as part of a larger network of protected marine reserves to put the bluefin on the road to recovery.

Where have all the tuna gone?

According to the assessments of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the current Atlantic bluefin tuna population is less than 15 percent of what it was before the beginning of industrial fishing activities (purse seining). If current fishing rates continue, the bluefin could disappear as a commercial species in just a few years. Globally, over 90 percent of large fish, such as tuna, have disappeared from our oceans, and some scientists warn that all commercial fisheries could collapse in the coming decades. We are demanding that oceans management - including the Mediterranean - be reformed to include a fully-protected network of marine reserves covering 40 percent of the world's oceans.

Marine reserves or empty nets forever?

We are acting to ensure healthy oceans and ample fish stocks for future generations. And we intend to non-violently confront Mediterranean bluefin fishing vessels in order to get the bluefin off the pathway to extinction and instead put our oceans on the road to recovery.

Greenpeace is campaigning for 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.

Take Action: The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is threaning the eastern spawning grounds for the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Therefore, it is even more vital that we protect the spawning grounds for this species in the Mediterranean.

Demand a marine reserve where there's no fishing in one of the most important bluefin spawning areas of the Mediterranean.

Time and tuna are running out

Bluefin tuna: Jewel of the Mediterranean zoom

A visual timeline of the Greenpeace campaign to defend the bluefin tuna of the Mediterranean.