'Tuna Tour,' a new proporsal to have a close look at bluefin tuna breeding in the Mediterranean. (Photo: Balfego/FIS)
Swimming amid bluefin tuna, a new tourism proposal
Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 04:00 (GMT + 9)
Grupo Balfegó proposes a novel ecological touristic activity in the waters of L’Ametla de Mar: swimming amid bluefin tuna in one of the pools of the company.
The public can enjoy swimming amid bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean Sea until October.
The company promotes the experience as incredible, since tuna are natural predators but they are harmless to people and in no case are they aggressive, La Vanguardia reported.
Balfegó is dedicated to controlled bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean and its subsequent conservation and breeding in the sea in swimming pools located in L’Ametla de Mar, where the captured specimens are fattened for a month each year until they reach their proper quality to be exported mainly to the Japanese market.
The Tuna Tour is a maritime excursion aboard a catamaran from the port of L'Ametlla up to Balfegó aquaculture pools, located about 2.5 nautical miles from the coast (about five kilometres).
There, the tourists can be informed about bluefin tuna feeding, care and control processes and have the opportunity to swim amid these fish.
The company invested around EUR 1 million to build the catamaran and pay several wages.
About 7,000 tourists are expected to enjoy this activity monthly.
"The goal of the Tuna Tour is to show, through a sea tour, the bluefin tuna history, fishing activity, care, research and gastronomic value, but, above all, a sustainable and responsible enterprise model with this species," Nuria Chertó, Grupo Balfegó Sales Manager, explained.
To complete this experience, Balfegó organizes the Tuna Tour Week annually, which promotes guided tours to the tuna vessels, gastronomic activities with renowned chefs and swimming endurance sports events.
The six ships that belong to Grupo Balfegó are the only ones that can fish for bluefin tuna in Spain through the purse seine method. This fleet remains moored for 11 months in the port of L'Ametlla de Mar.
In 2006 the NGO World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reported that between 50,000 and 60,000 tonnes of bluefin tuna were caught, almost twice the quota established by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), of 32,000 tonnes.
The Scientific Committee of this entity mentioned the French, Italian, Turkish and Libyan fleets as the most involved ones in illegal fishing.
In that same year, ICCAT established a new management plan for bluefin tuna, which authorized the capture of 29,500 tonnes, twice as that recommended by scientists.
Since then, the fishery has been restricted through reductions in the fishing season and in the total quota, which in 2010 had been set at 13,500 tonnes.
Spanish vessels are entitled to only 2,413 tonnes, which must be distributed among the various fishing methods: angling, trap nets, purse seine and threaded needle, among other legal ones.
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By Analia Murias