Fresh clashes have been reported off Malta between tuna fishermen and Greenpeace.
The owner of the two French fishing vessels, Jean-Marie Avallone, told AFP that a fisherman was injured when the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise rammed a trawler.
But Greenpeace rejected that claim and said its ship had been trying to free tuna caught in cages and that it had turned around and sailed away as soon as it saw the two fishing boats heading towards it.
"There was no contact between our militants and the crews of the fishing boats. And therefore no injured people," said Isabelle Philippe, spokeswoman for the group in France.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Malta Aquaculture producers reported a clash between Greenpeace activists and Spanish fishermen who, it said, were carrying out lawful fishing activities.
"This attack has resulted in loss to property and injuries among those involved. Activists tried to tear a net containing fish which had been caught by Spanish fishermen. The fishermen were acting within their rights and were doing nothing to provoke attention by these activists except for the fact that they were carrying exercising their trade." the federation said.
The federation condemned the Greenpeace attacks.
"Apart from subjecting both its activists and fishermen to unnecessary risks Greenpeace seems bent on causing economic loss to legitimate operators. Greenpeace cannot pretend that such actions are measured and / or peaceful. They are pure and simply designed to cause economic loss with violence against innocent operators."
Fishermen on Friday hurled a grappling hook at a Greenpeace dinghy trying to free bluefin tuna from their nets off Malta, injuring an activist whose leg was pierced by the hook.
Yesterday, conservation society Sea Shepherd has said it would launch a "Blue Rage" campaign against the poaching of threatened bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean.
In a reaction, the federation said that it recognized the need to eradicate all incidences of Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and it supported without reservation ongoing efforts at national, EU and international level to combat this phenomenon. Illegal fishing robbed those who followed the law from the fruits of their legitimate business and may, in extreme case,s pose a threat to the continued sustainability of the fishery.
"Having said this, we do not believe that the incidence of illegal and unregulated fishing in the Mediterranean is anywhere close to the extent claimed by the Sea Shepherds. These claims which are based on mere suppositions and are not backed up by facts, are obviously exaggerated and clearly intended to shape public outrage," the federation said.
It stressed that Blue Fin Tuna Fishing carried out this year by the Fleets of the European Union is highly regulated and sustainable, having been set according to scientific study. All purse seiners carry international observers on board and are subjected to an unprecedented level of controls. The purse seiners are required to fish according to scientifically set quotas and the available season has been reduced to only thirty days. This year’s season ends on the 14th June.
"We hope that the remaining few days will pass peacefully and uneventfully and that legitimate operators will suffer no further interference," the federation said.
From The Times Of Malta
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