Oceana obtains evidence proving bluefin tuna is being caught illegally in Italy and Turkey

The bluefin tuna fishery closes today for most seiners, but illegal fishing will continue because of the total lack of effective control measures

Press Release Date: May 5, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

The bluefin tuna fishery closes today for most industrial seiners, except for those that have requested additional days due to bad weather. The fishing season was marked by illegality and lack of transparency. Oceana points to the Italian and Turkish fleets as the main cause of overfishing.  


Oceana also points out that the end of the seining season does not imply that illegal bluefin tuna fishing activities will stop. On 21 May at dawn, Oceana observers witnessed the illegal landing of 20 large bluefin tunas in the port of Porticello (Sicily), with an approximate total weight of 2 tons, caught by various longliners. Neither the port nor the vessels were authorised to land bluefin tuna.


According to Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe: “This is not an isolated event. It happens every day with complete impunity in all the ports in the South Tyrrhenian, most of which are not authorised to land bluefin tuna. During this season and thanks only to isolated actions carried out by the Guardia Costiera, more than 55 tons of bluefin tuna caught illegally by the purse seine fleet, longlines or driftnets[1] has been confiscated in ports in southern Italy such as Porticello, Sant’Agata or Cetraro.”


Apart from purse seiners, there are more than 1,000 vessels in the ports in the South Tyrrhenian licensed for surface longlining and operating in the most important spawning areas for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean. Many of these vessels also use illegal drift nets. Of these vessels, only 29 longliners have been authorised to fish this species. Without control, these vessels may continue fishing illegally until the end of the season. 


Furthermore, in mid May, Turkey announced its opposition to its assigned quota[i]. The Turkish purse seine fleet, the largest in the Mediterranean, carries out its activities without any type of control. Many of the unauthorised vessels are equipped with nets in the ports and can fish at any time. A few days ago in the Turkish port of Alanya, Oceana observers witnessed how these vessels also use illegal driftnets to catch albacore (Thunnus alalunga), bluefin (Thunnus thynnus), little tunny (Euthynnus aletteratus) and other tuna species.

Xavier Pastor concluded: “The absence of control measures in the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery is an irrefutable fact and is not restricted only to seining. ICCAT member countries have proven they are totally incapable of guaranteeing compliance with legislation, especially in the EU. This has led to the current situation in which the authorised quota of 22,000 tons greatly exceeds scientific recommendations of 15,000 tons. There can only be one solution to this problem: the closing of the fishery until bluefin tuna stocks show signs of recovery.” 


Oceana has video footage and photographs about bluefin tuna available

Further information  

Oceana TV: “Oceana in action. Bluefin tuna


[1] http://www.guardiacostiera.it/servizi/dettaglioarticoloFH.cfm?idarticolo=57115


[i] ICCAT circular 988/09