Green group to launch Mediterranean tuna 'blue rage'

6th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Conservation Society Sea Shepherd will on Monday launch a "Blue Rage" campaign against the poaching of threatened bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean, the director of its French branch told AFP.

The group's boat Steve Irwin arrived on Saturday in Malta, near where Greenpeace activists clashed on Friday with French commercial tuna fishing vessels, director Lamya Essemlali told AFP.

She and the group's founder, Paul Watson, were to join the vessel and its crew of about 40 people on Monday to launch the campaign which would last until mid-July, she said.

"We want to stop the poachers," Essemlali said, adding they were often in waters near Libya.

"Targets are different before June 15, when illegal fishing is difficult to spot, and afterwards," Essemlali said.

The legal fishing period for the fish is May 15 to June 15.

Sea Shepherd says on the website the Steve Irwin and its crew "will stand against the illegal overfishing of bluefin tuna."

"We will do everything possible within the boundaries of international law to protect the magnificent bluefin," it says.

Fishermen on Friday hurled a grappling hook at a Greenpeace dinghy trying to free endangered bluefin tuna from their nets off Malta, injuring an activist whose leg was pierced by the hook.

In a May 16 statement on its website, the US-based Sea Shepherd said it suspected that four times the legal quota of 13,500 tons of blue fish tuna would be taken from the Mediterranean, "three-quarters falling into the hands of poachers."

Stocks of bluefin tuna have fallen by at least 85 percent since the industrial fishing era began.

Earlier this year the European Union and the United States attempted to ban the trade of the species, but Japan -- where bluefin tuna is a delicacy -- lobbied successfully and the proposal was defeated.

© 2010 AFP

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