Festa tat-Tonn 'raises ethical issues'
The organisation fish4tomorrow considers it unjustifiable that Malta, which is heavily contributing to the rapid decline of tuna stocks, hosts an event like the Festa tat-Tonn (tuna festival) encouraging its consumption.
In a statement, the organisation referred to the festival hosted last weekend in Marsaxlokk by the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs (MRRA) and the local council.
fish4tomorrow said that 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 pointed out that 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,” it said.
The organisation said it would have liked to see a festival supporting local artisanal fishers and their sustainable catch instead.
fish4tomorrow is a campaign promoting sustainable seafood consumption that is steered by five environmental NGOs: Nature Trust (Malta), Din l-Art Ħelwa, Sharklab, Greenhouse and GetUpStandUp. It urges the public to support local small-scale fishers, who risk their lives to bring delicious fresh fish to the market, and to try to eat fish caught using more environmentally-friendly methods.