Fishermen fire flares at tuna fishing protesters
The Sea Shepherd anti-tuna fishing campaign has reported a fresh clash between its flasgship Steve Irvin and tuna fishermen on the Cesare Rustico off the Libyan coast. A number of Maltese work on the Cesare Rustico.
It said that at 9 a.m. today, Steve Irwin moved into Libyan waters to inspect a cage being towed by the Italian Cesare Rustico. With the Sea Shepherd helicopter overhead, an inflatable Delta boat and dive team approached the cage.
The Cesare Rustico dropped the tow line and turned to defend the cage. At the same time the fishing vessels the Tagreft and the Rabbah 1060, along with the trawler Misurate 96, moved in quickly to defend their illegal catch of Bluefin, Sea Shepherd said.
"Immediately and without warning, the Steve Irwin was attacked with a barrage of flares aimed at the wheelhouse and the crew on deck. The Cesare Rustico issued a May Day distress signal saying they were under attack by the Steve Irwin even though the our crew had merely approached the cage to inspect the catch. Most worrying was the fact that the Sea Shepherd helicopter piloted by Chris Aultman was 'painted' by the Libyan airborne radar system."
Sea Shepherd said that in the interest of safety, it withdrew its inflatable and helicopter to the Steve Irwin.
"We then retreated to a safe distance away from the waters claimed by Libya. The two vessels Tagreft and the Rabbah 1060 pursued and continued to fire flares at the us. We were able to lose them quickly."
It claimed that the captain of the Cesare Rustico radioed the Tagreft and Rabbah 1060 to, "do whatever you can to damage them so they will never return."
The Captain of the Cesare Rustico reportedly also said that the Libyan Navy was within a few miles and closing in. However there were no Libyan naval vessels within thirty miles on the radar.
The Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin is now heading north into international waters.
The Steve Irwin was involved in a similar clash with the Cesare Rustico on Thursday, when two Maltese were hurt.
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Tags: malta, flares, concern, greenpeace, video, tuna, blue fin tuna, cages, afm, fishermen, injury, boats, capsize, mediterranean, fishery, legal, maltese
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