Mediterranean tuna ranches feel pinch as EU halts fishing

MARSAXLOKK, July 3, 2008 (AFP) – Mediterranean tuna ranches are feeling the pinch after the European Union moved to prevent the depletion of fish stocks. “This year, we will probably process only 500 tonnes,” said Saviour Caruana, a co-owner of Fish and Fish, a bluefin tuna ranch with a capacity of 1,200 tonnes.

“I had given a deposit of 500,000 euros to one fisherman for his catch this year, but because the EU closed the fishing season earlier he didn’t even catch a single tuna,” Caruana told AFP.

“Some fishermen will go bankrupt, and this is not good for us and the 26 people we employ on the farm.”

Citing fears that quotas were being filled too quickly, the European Union called an early end to industrial tuna fishing on June 16, at the peak of this year’s season.

Chronically overfished, Mediterranean tuna are the victims of their success with fish lovers, especially with the passion for sushi. About 70 percent of the Mediterranean catch goes to Japan, and prices are rising steadily.

The commission’s decision to close the tuna season early inflamed tensions with the fishing industry because it has been struggling to cope with hi