EU warns against bluefin tuna fishing in Libya waters
(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission on Wednesday warned against fishing bluefin tuna in Libyan waters or buying it from Libyan-flagged ships, which are likely to be catching the endangered fish illegally.
Tripoli has allowed fishing in its waters for the upcoming trawling season, despite the conflict and its plans not having been approved by an international organisation that monitors tuna catches in the Mediterranean.
With no international observers aboard Libyan vessels to document the catches, therefore "bluefin tuna caught by the Libyan fleet will be well on track to be deemed illegal," said EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki.
European Union law prohibits the trade, landing, import, export, and transhipment of bluefin tuna without proper documentation, she said.
"I therefore urged EU Ministers to monitor the fishing activities of these vessels," Damanaki said in a letter to fisheries ministers from the 27-nation EU, adding that no EU boats will fish in Libyan waters.
Industrial trawling of Mediterranean tuna, prized in sushi, unfolds during a specific season, running from May 15 to June 15.
The quotas are allotted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) under a 48-nation agreement which covers the eastern Atlantic as well as the Mediterranean.
After a fierce 10-day debate last November, ICATT members set an overall catch level for 2011 of 12,900 tonnes, barely unchanged from 13,500 tonnes in 2010. Libya's share this year is 902 tonnes.
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