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May 24, 2008

May, 24 2008

BY: Keith Ellenbogen


©OCEANA/ Keith Ellenbogen


Today Oceana’s MarViva Med a 160ft conservation research and diving vessel set off leaving behind the charming island of Palma De Mallorca, Spain where the boats in the marina and the masts on the yachts accentuate the beautiful cityscape.

Navigating our course south our expedition leader and Chief Scientist Xavier Pastor briefed the team on the importance of this expedition to photographically and videographically document the illegal tuna fishing practices in the Mediterranean — to insure a sustainable bluefin tuna fishery for future generations.

Only 60 miles South of the coast of Palma De Mallorca in relatively calm seas we approached our first bluefin tug boat towing at a very slow pace two large bluefin tuna cages that are approximately 200ft in diameter. The Valdivia was heading South, towards the fishing grounds close to Formentera island, where the tug boat will rende vouz with the tuna pursainers that will transfer their catches to the cages. There the fish will be fed and will grow until they are ready for being sent to the market. This technique is aimed at growing small bluefin tuna into larger tuna quickly.

Later in the day we spotted a second tuna cages tug, the Montroig, also heading South, in the vicinity of Emile Baudot Bank. Just before sunset, when we were already only a few miles from Formentera, we approached two longliners registered in Algeciras: Nuevo Isla Grande and her twin, Nuevo Isla Chica. They were sailing very slowly and no signs of fishing gear were seen onboard. They had already set their lines and they were waiting before starting the recovery of them, early morning tomorrow.

Please join our expedition over the next months as we highlight images from above and below ocean that focus on the joint project between Oceana and Mariviva to document bluefin tuna overexplotation and other illegal fishing practices.

Your comments and feed back are appreciated at europe@oceana.org