ANALYSIS - Last week the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reported the sighting of two non-Mediterranean fishing fleets in some of the main Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishing grounds.
According to the WWF, one fleet was of Chinese origin and the other was unknown. Neither of the two fleets are authorised to fish for bluefin tuna.
Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of WWF Mediterranean Fisheries Programme commented: “Despite cumulative signs of potential illegal fishing, and our repeated real-time communication to all the relevant management bodies, including The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the European Commission and countries like Spain and Italy, to our knowledge no at-sea inspections have taken place so far.”
European Commissioner Maria Damanaki responded: "I do thank national authorities and NGOs that cooperate with the Commission in order to fight illegal fishing activities, for the valuable input. We systematically check all the information available and in cooperation with the enforcement authorities and the European Fisheries Control Agency we will immediately react and take action against Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) activities: we are on alert."
The Commissioner also recommended, where possible, to carry out inspections of the vessels and to collect all necessary information on-board, such as catch data, landings, transhipments, Vessel Monitoring System positions and fishing gear.
The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA), commented that it appreciates the information provided by NGO but stressed that in conjunction with European Fisheries Control, it upholds strong control and monitoring of the fishery and of the activities of fishing vessels in general, irrespective of its flag.
The Chinese vessels are now thought to have left EU waters.
TheFishSite News Desk