‘Festa tat-Tonn’ raises ethical issues – fish4tomorrow
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The ‘Festa tat-Tonn’, which was hosted last weekend in Marsaxlokk by the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs (MRRA) and the local council as part of ‘A Sumer of Festivals,’ “raised a number of ethical issues,” fish4tomorrow said.
In recent years, the oceans’ Bluefin tuna stocks have been drastically depleted through overfishing, to such an extent that they are fast approaching a state beyond recovery. The situation is especially severe in the Mediterranean, where Malta has become infamous as a main player in the tuna industry. fish4tomorrow said that it therefore “considers it unjustifiable that the country, which is heavily contributing to the rapid decline of tuna stocks, should host an event encouraging its consumption.”
The organisation said in its statement, “the tuna fishing season ended over seven weeks ago, which means that any tuna sold and consumed during the festival was either illegally fished out of season or originated from the tuna ranches.
“Ranching involves catching young wild tuna and fattening them in cages to be sold out of season, primarily to Japanese markets. This has led to massive overfishing and, as a result, the EU has imposed fishing quotas in an attempt to limit the damage of this practice. However, on the downside, the traditional local fisherman is finding it close to impossible to compete with industry-scale fisheries for these quotas.”
fish4tomorrow said it would have liked to see a festival supporting local artisanal fishers and their sustainable catch. “However, the ministry has opted, rather, to hold an event promoting the sale of unsustainably-caught tuna.”
fish4tomorrow is a campaign promoting sustainable seafood consumption, and is steered by five environmental NGOs: Nature Trust (Malta), Din l-Art Helwa, Sharklab, Greenhouse and GetUpStandUp. It urges the public to support local small-scale fishers, who risk their lives to bring delicious fresh fish for the market and to try and eat fish which are caught using more environmentally-friendly methods.