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June 1, 2008

Anchored and waiting

BY: Keith Ellenbogen


©OCEANA/ Keith Ellenbogen


On this Sunday morning the two French purseiner fishing boats Gerard Luc IV ST 900236 and Gerald Jean IV MA-916469 remain anchored in the Bay of Formentara Island. The only activity in the bay this morning was The Govern de les Illes Balears an environmental cleaning boat that was removing plastics or trash floating in the bay. On a positive note I have not noticed any garbage floating past our ship.

Meanwhile onboard the MarViva Med we are all guessing what these fishing boats are doing. Xavier Pastor over dinner shared a few possible theories. Such as the fishing boats maybe tying to save fuel costs by only using only two boats to scout for the bluefin tuna. Once the fish are found they will call the other boats. But, he admits this is just a theory. Either way we wait patiently.

This afternoon, I photographed some of the equipment on the MarViva Med that I thought captured interesting forms and shapes.

The environment: bond with the sea

Do you know why the fishing season is from May to July?

Its because the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna migrate annually to the Mediterranean — in some instances traveling across the Atlantic Ocean for one reason — to reproduce. The giant Bluefin tuna are a remarkable fish and can live up to 15 years. Recent studies indicate that 50% of bluefin tuna don’t reach sexually maturity until they are 12 not 8 years old as was previously believed (NOAA). However, like clockwork as soon as the bluefin tuna arrive in the Mediterranean so do the fishing boats. As result of this over fishing, the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna are now listed on the “Critically Endangered Species List”. Animals on this list have an extremely high risk of becoming extinct.

Atlantic bluefin tuna have been an important part of Mediterranean culture for 12,000 years, and have been fished in the Mediterranean for at least 2,600 years — we would like this to continue for centuries to come.

What can be done to help?

Until sustainable management measures aligned with scientific advice are adopted – such as a closure of the fishing season in the crucial spawning month of June, and the reduction of fleet capacity – environmental organizations such as Oceana and WWF continue to urge for a moratorium of the fishery by ICCAT Contracting Parties, and for the boycott of trade and consumption of Mediterranean bluefin tuna by citizens, retailers, chefs and restaurateurs across the world.