World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace have called for an industrial suspension on bluefin tuna fishing season in the Mediterranean Sea.

The organizations are campaigning for the rescue of these species of fishes, and their restoration in the Mediterranean marine environment.

A centuries-old fishing industry was sent a request by the members of the two organization meant to manage the fishery – the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

Libya now allows fishing in its waters despite a prior agreement of a fishing plan for the season. This would make any fishing activity by Libyan fleets illegal, according to ICCAT rules.

“Unless members of ICCAT take urgent action they will appear more determined than ever to undermine the management plans that at best will give Mediterranean bluefin a few years to survive,” said Sebastian Losada, Greenpeace International Oceans policy adviser.

Due to the current unrest in Libya there will not be an effective monitoring and enforcement of the fishery in its waters, it will risk an internationally agreed recovery plan for the severely overfished species.
There are reports that several Libyan vessels, legally unauthorized to fish for bluefin, have left from European ports in France (Sète) and Malta.

Greenpeace and WWF share the belief that ICCAT members should have prevented their departure. Both organizations have asked the French government to look into the matter, since ten Libyan-flagged purse seine fishing vessels are owned by Frenchmen.

“Given that illegal Libyan vessels are ready to set sail from France and Malta if not stopped in their tracks, European Union institutions also bear a significant responsibility to ensure this year’s purse seine fishing season is closed,” said Sergi Tudela of WWF.

The demands from the two organizations follow Libya’s announcement that it will engage in illegal fishing for bluefin tuna this year, ignoring ICCAT’s request to avoid tuna fishing in Libyan waters.

“It would be even more scandalous that in the current difficult situation affecting Libya, French interests would benefit from access to the fishing resources in Libyan waters,” said Losada. “The international community is responsible, more than ever, for the conservation of those resources for future generations,” he added.