Again: Like last year, the Ibiza Island Council protested sharply to the Spanish central government in Madrid against the illegal dumping of tuna corpses by purse seiners. The bottom trawlers had up to 3 tonnes of decaying tuna carcasses in their nets per haul over the past few days. Currently the seabed of Ibiza (especially the area between Sant Antoni and Formentera) is “a tuna cemetery”, a fisherman complains. The nets are so full of illegal discards that they even break. “We have been criticising this situation for years, but we have noticed that there are more and more discards as fleets come closer and closer to the coast to fish,” the fisherman told the magazine Diario de Ibiza.
The controls are obviously a joke: If the tuna is transferred from the purse seine to a swimming cage after it has been caught, divers are in the net and illegally remove all dead tuna from the net, although they should actually be landed and counted towards the quota.
The transfer of fish from the nets to the cages is reported to be recorded by a mobile phone from a boat and sent to a naval vessel. This vessel then certifies that the whole procedure is in accordance with the rules and that the quotas set are not exceeded!
The fact that the mobile phone cannot record what happens under water is now increasingly met with criticism. The Party PP criticised the illegal discards and the deputy regional fisheries inspector Virginia Marí spoke of a “gloomy picture” which the French, Italian and Spanish fleets “leave on our seabed” because of the lack of controls, according to the newspaper.
According to Marí, it is the same situation as in 2018, when “hundreds of tunas from illegal discards lay on the seabed and rot”. In the nets, even fish of poor quality had been deliberately killed beforehand. “All this happens with absolute impunity,” Marí said.
No wonder that the owner of the largest fishing fleet, the Balfego Group, thanked the inspection team for their “good work”. The Balfego fleet, consisting of 3 Spanish and 2 French purse seine boats as well as 17 support boats had fulfilled their quota of 2200 tons of Bluefin in seven days at the beginning of June. Around Ibiza there were also fishing boats from Italy and even Malta. Balfego now called on ICCAT to tighten controls so that dead tuna from the purse seine nets would not be secretly taken to support boats and illegally traded. – Balfego, on the other hand, does not mind the fish corpses on the seabed.
The fisheries inspector of the Consell de Ibiza now demands that “there are also observers in the cages under water to prevent this situation from repeating itself year after year”. According to Virginia Marí, a complaint to this effect last year was ineffective in Madrid.