Update 6: Two injured fishermen to be airlifted to Malta
Adds details, Sea Shepherd version of events, government statement -
Two Maltese fishermen who were injured in a clash with tuna fishing protesters off Libya this afternoon are to be airlifted to Mater Dei Hospital on an Italian Military Mission helicopter later this evening once his trawler comes closer to Malta.
One of the fishermen, Reuben Silvio, a diver on the trawler Rosaria Tuna operated by 'Fish and Fish', was injured when environmentalists from the vessel Sea Shepherd attempted to hook up and damage a tuna-pen which was under tow.
The fisherman requires treatment for a ripped arm caused by a fishing hook.
The injury was caused when one of the volunteers from the Sea Shepherd threw a grapnel at the tuna pen to tear it. The fisherman scrambled onto the pen to remove the hook and suffered a ripped arm when the environmentalists pulled it back. A quantity of tuna managed to escape from the pen.
Also injured was diver Joe Barry.
The Maltese search and rescue authorities were informed of the incident by the fishermen and the Libyan authorities had been expected to provide medical evacuation but none turned up by early this evening.
Other Maltese fishermen on the trawler suffered bruising which is thought to have been caused by rubber bullets fired at them by the protesters. Some eight other Maltese are believed to have been on the trawler involved in the incident.
The injured fishermen were transferred to the trawler Cesaro Rustico which headed closer to Malta so that the medical airlift could take place by the joint Italian-Maltese helicopter crew.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is conducting a campaign against tuna fishing in the Mediterranean.
The government in a statement expressed solidarity with the Maltese fishermen and said the tuna was caught legally.
SEA SHEPHERD GIVES DIFFERENT VERSION OF EVENTS
Meanwhile, the Sea Shepherd said its ship, the Steve Irwin has identified two purse seiners 'committing illegal activities' of the Libyan coast. The ship approached the suspicious vessels, the Italian seiner Cesare Rustico and the Tagreft and notified the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) of possible violations.
The group said the trawlers were towing two cages, one cage contained about 800 fish and the other appeared empty. The Captain of the Cesare Rustico reported that all the tuna were caught on the morning of the 14th by the vessel Tagreft, the last legal day before the EU ban. Sea Shepherd noted that the number of tuna in the cage exceeded the quota for the Tagreft, in response the Captain said the cage also included bluefin from eight other seiners.
“This was sounding most convenient so we asked to examine the fish for juveniles and they refused. I put the bow of the Steve Irwin close to the cage and we tied off to hold onto the cage so that we could examine it further,” said Captain Paul Watson, founder and president of Sea Shepherd.
"The vessel Rosaria Tuna rammed the Steve Irwin on the aft port side and slid alongside the port rail as a fishermen tried to gaff Sea Shepherd crew members with a long hook on a pole. The Steve Irwin crew retaliated with eight litres of rotten butter forcing the seiner to retreat."
PN CONDEMNS AGGRESSION
In a statement, the Nationalist Party described the Sea Shepherd's actions as fanatical, putting Maltese fishermen’s life and limb in jeopardy.
It noted that Maltese fishermen were engaged in perfectly lawful activities and there were other ways and means how the Sea Shepherd could voice its message and wage its campaign.
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Tags: malta, greenpeace, video, tuna, blue fin tuna, cages, afm, fishermen, injury, boats, capsize, mediterranean, fishery, legal, helicopter, airlift, hospital, mater dei, government, sea shepherd, Nationalist Party, aggression,
Marked as: approved
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