One member of Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation is already on board the ship ‘M/Y Steve Irwin’, that sailed from southern France towards the Libyan Sea and the wider area of the Eastern Mediterranean. At the same time, members of Archipelagos’ research team will patrol the Greek and international waters on their sailing vessel and speedboat, in order to aid in the location of illegal fishing practices and in this way deter illegal distribution of Bluefin tuna.
In June 2010 members of Archipelagos’ marine research team were involved in a ‘heated incident’ with 6 Turkish illegal tuna fishing boats in the sea between Samos and Fourni. Despite the dangerous situation that they were faced with, Archipelagos successfully managed to make their presence in the area known and in this way aid in the prevention of this illegal fishing practice.
During the same period of time, members of Sea Shepherd successfully ‘wounded’ the illegal Bluefin tuna trade in Libyan waters, releasing 800 Bluefin tunas from their transportable cages, that were being towed by smugglers.
This year’s project is foreseen to be even more difficult due to the political circumstances created by NATO operations in Libya. The fact that one of Archipelagos’ team members is on board M/Y Steve Irwin, creates an open dialogue between the two organisations that will ensure fast and valid information about the whereabouts of illegal fishing boats. Our mutual goal is to prevent illegal Bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean as much as possible.
In June 2010 members of Archipelagos met with Sea Shepherds crew, that had arrived in Greece incognito. It was on board Steven Irwin that Archipelagos IMC and Sea Shepherd began a collaboration for the prevention of Bluefin tuna smuggling in the Mediterranean, as well as for this year’s enterprise in the Libyan sea.
Bluefin tuna is a key marine predator and a highly migratory species which can reach half a ton or over in weight. The Japanese market constitutes the main recipient of Bluefin tuna, as it consumes almost 80% of the worldwide stock where the meat can reach up to 600 Euros per kilo. As a result of the persistent and unregulated fishing of this species and the large profits that come from the Bluefin fishing trade, there is more than an 80% collapse of global fish stocks. The countries that mainly partake in the Bluefin tuna black market are: Italy, France, Spain, Malta, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Croatia and Cyprus.
Archipelagos will be in touch with ‘M/Y Steve Irwin’ on a daily basis and will keep you informed throughout the course of its mission