Maltese Aquaculture Producers hit out at Greenpeace:

Caught tuna was destined for Maltese fishfarms.

"we intend to peacefully 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
June 8, 2010

Maltese Aquaculture Producers hit out at Greenpeace: "They sought confrontation and got the confrontation they wanted"
The Federation of Maltese Aquaculture Producers has hit out at Greenpeace over an incident which saw a Greenpeace activist injured by a grappling hook during a protest against tuna fishing. The incident occurred when the activists attempted to disrupt a fishing operation and tried to free the fish already caught and which was destined to go to Maltese fishfarms.The injured activist is being treated in Malta

A report in the Times of Malta said the federation condemned the use of violence but pointed out that the incident occurred because the activists intervened in a legitimate fishing operation. The fishermen, it said, had done nothing to provoke attention from the activists except by carrying out their legitimate business.

"The activists’ effort against the fishermen cannot be considered other than violent and illegal. There is no other way to define a concerted and well planned action which seeks to prevent another from carrying out his lawful activities," the federation was quoted as saying.

"The activists cannot have expected the fishermen not to resist the attack; they sought confrontation and got the confrontation they wanted."

The federation was quoted as saying that a French patrol boat which was in the vicinity called the activists by radio and commanded them to desist because the fishing expedition was being conducted legally and was being monitored properly; the activists did not obey the command and, according to press releases issued by Greenpeace, they insisted that they didn’t care whether the fish was being caught legally.

"The Greenpeace activity was violent and unlawful. They alone bear the blame for the consequences of yesterday’s incidents."

The federation pointed out that the Blue Fin Tuna fishing carried out this year by the fleets of the European Union is highly regulated and sustainable. All purse seiners trawlers carry international observers on board and are subjected to an unprecedented level of controls. The purse seiners are required to fish according to scientifically set quotas and the available season has been reduced to only 30 days. This year’s season, which ends on the 14th June, has so far been marred by bad weather in this area of the Mediterranean.

The federation urged Greenpeace to give up its confrontational stance and "to return to an honest and open discussion on the continuation of the fishery in a sustainable manner."

The account of the incident by Greenpeace is given below:

As bluefin tuna fishing began in the Mediterranean today, just south of Malta - Greenpeace set out to peacefully 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.
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.

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.

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.

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.

We are acting peacefully to ensure healthy oceans and ample fish stocks for future generations. And we intend to peacefully 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.