AN international group of journalists has brought to light a case of what it described yesterday as clear corruption in the bluefin tuna fishing industry and has asked the Spanish government to take steps to protect the fish's breeding grounds south of the Balearic Islands.
According to an expert study unveiled by the journalists, there is a lack of control in bluefin tuna fishing, with many cases of refusal to keep within the catch limits, or to declare the amount of fish caught. The report also alleged that the catches were being illegally flown to customers, that a large number of undersized fish were being included in the catches and even cases where governments themselves were aiding and abetting these practices. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) research had been compiled over eight months through an exhaustive follow-up of bluefin tuna catches and sales.
Raul Garcia, the head of the WWF Fisheries department in Spain, said yesterday that this high level of illegal practices means that no consumer, company or government can assume that the bluefin tuna has been caught and sold in a responsible way. He claimed that the whole process was open to suspicion.
The WWF said that the information obtained from the International Commission for the Preservation of the Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) confirmed that the illegal fishing of the bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean had been habitual throughout this year.
Greenpeace representative Celia Ojeda said that the situation is out of control.