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Italian Authorities Seize Bluefin Catch And Illegal Driftnets

Italian marine authorities have confiscated 15 kilometres of driftnets and an illegal catch of 30 bluefin tuna and swordfish from the Italian fishing vessel Frederica II, yesterday. The vessel had tried to flee, but the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, kept it in sight until the coastguard’s arrival.  The Frederica II, registration number 7PA1860 and with harbour of origin at Porticello, near Palermo, was just off Punta Limarsi (southern coast of Pantelleria), approximately 250 km from Palermo.

The crew of the Rainbow Warrior located the Frederica II (1) earlier in the day and reported its location to the authorities after documenting the existence of illegal driftnets onboard.

“Driftnet fishing involves a high level of by-catch - including whales, dolphins and turtles (2),” said Alessandro Gianni, Greenpeace Italy Oceans campaigner. “Driftnets have long been banned by both the UN and the European Union, so it is a disgrace that they are still being put to use in the Mediterranean Sea.”

The inspection – at the harbour of Pantelleria, in the Sicilian Channel – also uncovered the existence of longline, fishing equipment. According to the EU’s online Fleet Register, the Frederica II is only licensed to fish by bottom trawling. The driftnets and longline, together with the catch of 16 swordfish and 14 bluefin tunas – some of which were undersized juveniles – were confiscated in the presence of Greenpeace.

That this vessel has been found carrying illegal driftnets without a licence, and catching bluefin tuna without a quota is unfortunately representative of what is wrong with marine management in the Mediterranean today,” added Gianni.

“If we want fish tomorrow, we need marine reserves today. The Sicilian Channel is an important area that needs full protection as part of a regional network of marine reserves. Given the dire state of tuna stocks, it is also time to give the species trade protection under CITES.”