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Greenpeace international ocean policy advisor, Sebastian Losada does not think commercial hatcheries are the solution. (Photo: IISD)

Greenpeace rebukes government over commercial tuna hatchery plan

Click on the flag for more information about Malta MALTA
Tuesday, August 09, 2011, 00:00 (GMT + 9)

Greenpeace has condemned Maltese Government plans for a commercial fish hatchery and deemed them even worse for wild fish populations than the current farmed fish fattening taking place in local waters.

The planned new commercial-sized hatchery would include a bluefin tuna spawning facility.

According to government spokesperson, the government have considered various possible sites for the hatchery and the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) has made EUR 1 million available for the development.

Ta’ Mattew Fish Farms had accused the government of dragging its feet about the company’s pitch to put up a commercial bluefin tuna hatchery to be part-funded by the South Korean National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, The Times of Malta reports.

Company director Raymond Bugeja said such a hatchery would help conserve wild bluefin because it would yield a self-perpetuating population of farmed bluefin tuna and thus ease pressure on wild stocks.

But Sebastian Losada, Greenpeace international ocean policy advisor, countered that commercial hatcheries are not the solution when it comes to preserving wild bluefin tuna.

“The recovery of bluefin tuna will depend on the management decisions taken at ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) level, and on the responsible behaviour of fishing countries and companies. In any case, bluefin tuna hatcheries will not be producing tuna at a scale which will have a significant impact in bluefin tuna fisheries and their market dynamics in the short to medium term,” he affirmed.

Indeed, Losada argued that a tuna hatchery would be even more harmful than fattening tuna in offshore pens.

“Tuna farming – rather than fattening – as suggested will be even more problematic since it will require bigger amounts of fish feed, actually transferring fishing pressure from bluefin tuna to other fish species lower in the marine food web,” Losada explained. “Both tuna fattening and farming are hugely inefficient activities from the point of view of food production and we regard them as unsustainable.”

Further, Greenpeace opposes the use of public funds to support this kind of research, and public money should instead go to support sustainable fishing practices and fishing communities, he added.

Environmentalist and conservationist groups including Greenpeace and many scientists were dismayed last November when ICCAT succumbed to forceful lobbying by Malta and other Mediterranean countries and cut the 2011 Atlantic bluefin tuna quota by a mere 600 tonnes from 2010, to a global figure of 12,900 tonnes.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in line with scientific recommendations, had pushed for a quota of less than 6,000 tonnes.

Related articles:

-
Environmental organizations demand further protection of bluefin tuna 

-
ICCAT reduces bluefin tuna quota by only 4 per cent 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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