by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Causes
Tags: .

TUNA WARS, sea shepherd

The tuna wars have begun.

Paul Watson and his crew disembarked from Wellington, New Zealand yesterday for a long journey to the Mediterranean in a bid to curtail illegal fishing of bluefin tuna. Unlike the Japanese — who are fairly familiar with the Sea Shepherd’s tactics — fisherman in the Mediterranean may not show the same tolerance for interference with their catches. “The bluefin tuna fishery is controlled by the Italian Corsican mafia – so we’re up against some pretty big bad boys when we go in there,” Watson said.

In an interview with ABC News, Watson added that the SS plan on cutting the nets of illegal fishing vessels targeting bluefin; although how they plan on recognizing who is legit and who isn’t still remains something of a mystery.  “The bluefin tuna right now has reached a point where there is less than 15 percent of its original numbers and we’re gonna lose this species unless we intervene.”

Last week Japan successfully rallied against a ban on the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna. The country consumes around three-quarters of the globe’s bluefin catch, with almost all of it served raw as sushi and sashimi.

“The bluefin tuna right now has reached a point where there is less than 15 percent of its original numbers and we’re gonna lose this species unless we intervene,” said Watson.

via 3News

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • Michael Raymer

    I don’t know how it is in the Med, but I know that in the States, legal fishing boats are clearly marked on the boat (e.g. the pilothouse window) with the appropriate stickers so that Coast Guard and other enforcement agencies can check through binoculars. There should also be some form of public registry that shows who IS legal.

    Now, before the “Watson is the Anti-Christ” faction gets here, can we be clear on one thing? This is ILLEGAL Tuna fishing we’re talking here. I_L_L_E_G_A_L!!! As in NOT LEGAL. As in, they’re not supposed to be doing it, they never were supposed to be doing it, they are hurting everyone else, most notably the people who are doing it legally. Please, please, please can we take a deep breath and go with that concept?

    • Michael Raymer

      There is also the fact that Japan will buy from everyone without regard to whether their activities are legal. I mean, copyright infringement is a huge global issue, intellectual property is a huge global issue. But if you have a Bluefin for sale, Japan will purchase it from you regardless how you got it. If this is being addressed at all, I haven’t heard about it.

    • Mick

      Michael Raymer,

      “There is also the fact that Japan will buy from everyone without regard to whether their activities are legal. I mean, copyright infringement is a huge global issue, intellectual property is a huge global issue.”

      What are you basing this so-called “fact” on? Or is this your opinion? “Copyright infringement”???? You’re going pretty far off the topic, wouldn’t you say? Are you trying to imply that copyright infringement is a problem in Japan? If so, what are you basing this on? Or, once again, is this your opinion?

    • Michael Raymer

      I may have meant “patent infringement”, the distinctions between the various “infringements” being lost on me, and I posted that fairly early this morning and wasn’t as Hemingway-esque as I like to be.

      Mick, these infringements are a problem for the entire industrialized world. CD, DVD, Movies, pharmaceuticals, software and everything else that people want. Someone invents, develops and/or produces it, and someone else pirates it. It has been on the news a million times, I’ll leave it to you to look it up for yourself.

      My earlier point is that yes, Japan is as pissed off as anyone else when someone else pirates their “intellectual property”, but have no hesitation in purchasing poached (illegally obtained, wrongfully gotten, caught-by-someone-who-shouldn’t-have-been-catching-it) Bluefin tuna. One of the best ways to curtail poaching is by identifying whether the seller was licensed to catch/sell this particular fish. But, Bluefin is such a hot ticket item in Japan, no effort is made.

      Y’know, I did my part to not let this particular thread slide into the usual waist-deep pool of horse crap that happens with every other Sea Shepherd thread. But so be it. What is one of the central themes you pro-whalers use? “Oh, those poor, poor whalers. They are just trying to make a living. How dare Sea Shepherd interfere with those poor working stiffs. I must go cry into my pillow now.” Legal Mediterranean tuna fishermen are trying to make a living and are being stripped of it. Any success Sea Shepherd achieves will directly benefit THEM and allow them to continue to make a living.

      So go on, whine about that.

      And since “personal involvement” seems to needed to post an opinion here, my brother is a commercial fisherman. Right now he is in Alaska busting his ass to make a living. It is a very dangerous job, he has already been badly injured by it but, on he goes. On top of extreme weather, diminishing stocks, pollution from fish farms, and the fact that salt-water and salt-air wears your equipment out pretty fast; the last thing he needs to contend with is poachers crippling his fishery.

    • Mick

      Michael raymer,

      “Mick, these infringements are a problem for the entire industrialized world.”

      I agree, this is a big problem. However, I believe it is ridiculous stretch between “intellectual infringements” and tuna.

      “..but have no hesitation in purchasing poached (illegally obtained, wrongfully gotten, caught-by-someone-who-shouldn’t-have-been-catching-it) Bluefin tuna..”

      This is a very broad statement rife with assumptions. First, you are assuming it happens. Second, you assume they know about it. And third, you assume they condone it. What evidence are you basing this statement on?

      “…But, Bluefin is such a hot ticket item in Japan, no effort is made.”

      How do you know?

      “Y’know, I did my part to not let this particular thread slide into the usual waist-deep pool of horse crap that happens with every other Sea Shepherd thread.”

      Yet, your first comment on this thread is nothing but baseless accusations. If you desire to keep the discussion on track, it would be helpful if you refrained from broad generalizations and inflammatory accusations.

      “Right now he is in Alaska busting his ass to make a living. It is a very dangerous job, he has already been badly injured by it but, on he goes. On top of extreme weather, diminishing stocks, pollution from fish farms, and the fact that salt-water and salt-air wears your equipment out pretty fast; the last thing he needs to contend with is poachers crippling his fishery.”

      I wish your brother-in-law the best in his endeavors. He doesn’t need self-righteous hippies hurling bottles of acid at him, trying to foul his ships props or trying to blind him with lasers, either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1076105348 Hart

    How in hell can Ecorazzi claim that the militant poachers from Japan have been ‘tolerant’ of SSCS enforcement actions? They tried to murder six Sea Shepherds aboard the Ady Gil.

    • Claire

      I completely agree. Especially this past year the Japanese whalers were far from tolerant of Sea Shepherd.

    • Mick

      Hart,

      This video suits you perfectly. AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7eSKKlAb5U

      • Michael Raymer

        Mick,

        The video in question suits YOU perfectly. You just need the attention span to watch it all the way to the end. C’mon Mick, sing along with me now:

        “The story, all names, character and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious.”

        “No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products are intended or should be inferred.”

        “And we must be careful. Video Creators can make convenient videos for themselves. We have to have Media Literacy.”

        Your voice faded out there at the end Mick. Once more, with feeling:

        “And we must be careful. Video Creators can make convenient videos for themselves. We have to have Media Literacy.”

        Very good Mick, me boy. Get rid of the vacant stare and you could almost pass for a less-talented John Mayer. Come back next week and we’ll sing “Grandma got run over by Kimitake.”

      • Mick

        Michael Raymer,

        Wow. Due to the fact that video and comment was not directed at you, you sure took it personally.
        Judging by your post, I take it that the way anti-whaling advocates, like yourself, are portrayed struck a nerve with you. Anyway, I’m glad you took the time to watch it.

    • Robert Beller

      @ Hart

      Ecorazzi is right the Japanese didn’t surround the Farley Mowat with vessels block it in and then destroy their helicopter with huge lead net weights the first time the SSCS attacked them. The tuna fishermen did that to Greenpeace in 2008. They’ll need to increase the velocity of the lead to penetrate the SSCS heli-hanger but that shouldn’t be a problem for a “mafia” operation.

      Greenpeace 2008 Med Tuna Campaign

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivr3xnDsFn4

      The Japanese have been very patient with the SSCS it took them years to build their defenses they have only increased their actions in line with the SSCS’s escalations. Until Japanese or NZ maritime officials charges the SM2 with attempted murder you are wrong and please don’t tell about how AU might proffer charges because they can’t unless NZ officially asks them to (the Ady Gil was flagged in NZ). It was reported that SSCS lawyers filed an attempted murder complaint with the AU police but it won’t go any further than that headline because AU has no power to investigate. Bethune knows damn well how a smaller vessel fares against larger ships in a collision he killed a Guatemalan fisherman in 2007. According to this article Bethune hired “High powered lawyers to “win” his case. I’ve see claims that he paid reparations to the families but nothing about the amount. For all we know he gave them $100 and free Earth Race T-shirts.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10429738

  • Kimitake Hiraoka

    Is Mediterranean tune industry actually controlled by the mafia or is that just another gem from Paul Watson’s imagination, like the “Japanese whaling industry is controlled by the Yakuza” fib?

    Either way, how exciting that the Europeans might give the Sea Shepherd thugs their comeuppance. Not that I support the harvesting of endangered species, but after years of Japanese patience and tolerance with his money-grubbing nonsense it’s high time Paul Watson was dealt with properly.

    It would seem only too appropriate that he be made to sleep with the fishes.

    He’d make a fine feast for a great many fish, what!

  • Michael Raymer

    Mick,

    First of all, I’m sorry if my methods of making a point don’t meet with your approval. When the Analogy Police show up at my door, I promise I’ll go quietly. It is not a broad stretch, especially after reading the posts on this site, to expect people, organizations and governments to live by the same standards that they apply to others. Japan does not want their products to be pirated, to be bought/sold illegally; but they have no problem purchasing illegally caught tuna to provide for their own domestic consumption. If you can’t connect the dots all by your lonesome, get someone to help you. It’s really not my responsibility.

    Why are you arguing with me? On this subject, what is a “debate win” for you? Illegal Bluefin poaching should be stopped. Why? Because it’s illegal and it’s poaching. Yet, here you are. You tell me, where is all this illegally caught Bluefin going? Is it going to the massive sushi/sashimi market in Mexico? Zimbabwe? North Dakota? No, it’s going to the market that wants it the most, Japan. It’s going to the market that will pay the most to get it, Japan. How is this in dispute and why are you taking the time to dispute it? Again, WHY ARE YOU ARGUING WITH ME, ABOUT THIS?

    “Yet, your first comment on this thread is nothing but baseless accusations. If you desire to keep the discussion on track, it would be helpful if you refrained from broad generalizations and inflammatory accusations.”

    You should know better. You, of all people, should really know better. Take a look:

    “12. After slaughter, the bulk of this production is exported to Japan as frozen products
    where it is consumed as sushi and sashimi. The total imports of 32,356 t of
    processed bluefin tuna reported by Japan to ICCAT for 2007 contrast with the Total
    Allowable Catch for that year of 29,500 t. This mismatch between ICCAT import
    records and the Total Allowable Catch is all the more evident when domestic
    consumption in European Mediterranean countries, intra-European trade, and catches by the national Japanese fleet operating in the East Atlantic and the
    Mediterranean Sea (reported at 2,078 t in 2007) are taken into account. All these
    elements taken together suggest catches significantly higher than the legal quotas,
    (up to 61,000 t in 2007, according to ICCAT scientists).”

    Source: http://www.cites.org/common/cop/15/raw_props/E-15%20Prop-MC%20T%20thynnus.pdf

    That means that before a Japanese fishing boat has caught a single fish, without the consumption of the countries who actually border the Med taken into consideration, Japans import of Atlantic Bluefin EXCEEDS what everyone is allowed to catch, COMBINED!

    There’s your “broad generalizations and inflammatory accusations.”

    Now shut up.

    • Mick

      Michael Raymer,

      “Japan does not want their products to be pirated, to be bought/sold illegally; but they have no problem purchasing illegally caught tuna to provide for their own domestic consumption.”

      It is your opinion that there is a correlation between product piracy and illegal tuna. I disagree and I believe that it is a ridiculous stretch between the two. As you said in another post, “BTW, this is a thread about whaling”. To turn your phrase, BTW, this is a thread about tuna.

      “Why are you arguing with me? Illegal Bluefin poaching should be stopped.”

      I agree that illegal Bluefin fishing should be stopped. I’m not arguing with you on this point. In your original post you stated, “There is also the fact that Japan will buy from everyone without regard to whether their activities are legal.”
      I am questioning whether your claim is based on facts or simply your personal opinion. On countless occaisions anti-whaling advocates have mis-represented their opinions as fact. Also, I am questioning your motives for making such claims. You allege that Japan is knowingly and willfully buying illegally caught tuna and criticizing them for that. However, you have no criticism for those who are actually illegally catching the Bluefin tuna.

      “The total imports of 32,356 t of
      processed bluefin tuna reported by Japan to ICCAT for 2007 contrast with the Total
      Allowable Catch for that year of 29,500 t.”

      Now in regards to your ICCAT report. Thank you for the link. You could have saved both of us some time if you had supplied this information in the first place.

      Some additional imformation from ICCAT circular 1951/07, that your ICCAT report referenced.

      2007 probable catch: Med. 47,800 tons E. Atlantic 13,200 tons

      BFT table 1 Total reported catches for 2007 including transfer to fish farms.

      Total reported catches for 2007: 34,030 t
      ATE 8,035 t
      MED 24,363 t
      ATW 1,632 t

      A quote from section BFTE-2

      “leads us to conclude that the exports to the Japanese and United States markets largely exceed the reported catches”

      To refresh your memory, you said, “..have no hesitation in purchasing poached (illegally obtained, wrongfully gotten, caught-by-someone-who-shouldn’t-have-been-catching-it) Bluefin tuna. One of the best ways to curtail poaching is by identifying whether the seller was licensed to catch/sell this particular fish. But, Bluefin is such a hot ticket item in Japan, no effort is made.”

      First, you say Japan has “no hesitation”. There is nothing to indicate how willing or unwilling buyers in Japan are to purchase illegally caught tuna or even if they are aware, at the time of purchase, that it HAS been illegally caught. Clearly, by looking at the end-of-year report, illegally caught tuna was imported and purchased in Japan. However, there is absolutely nothing in that report to indicate the circumstances, legalities or possible illegalities surrounding the importation and sale of the tuna. It simply reports that there is clear evidence that Bluefin tuna CATCHES are being under-reported. Catches that are taking place in EUROPE and not Japan, I might add. In short, this ICCAT report does not support your allegations that Japan has “no hesitation” in buying illegally caught Bluefin tuna.
      I agree that one way to curtail overfishing is to identify if the seller is licensed to catch/sell this particular fish. Another way is to vigorously regulate, inspect and enforce catch limits in the fisheries where the fish are caught. Which is clearly not being done. You say that “no effort” is being made in Japan. The ICCAT report you provided does not support this allegation. How do you know how much effort is being made or not? Do you have other evidence to support this allegation?
      In summary, you appear to be placing all of the blame for the overfishing of Bluefin tuna, based on unproven claims of willful PURCHASE of illegally caught tuna, on Japan. Yet, you level no critism on the countries that are the ones ACTUALLY overfishing and clearly making little effort to stop the practice.

      • Michael Raymer

        Mick,

        This is getting ridiculous. I don’t know where you ever got the impression that my posts had to live up to your expectations. But if you feel that they should, then you need to work on your own. You as well as ddpalmer and Kimitake (and this Robert Beller guy, but he needs to lose the training wheels, so we’ll just leave him out of this) have made your intentions clear. “Find no fault with anyone except Sea Shepherd and, at all costs, defend Japan.” You question MY motives? OK, let’s clear it up. I hereby certify that I am not a member nor affiliated in any way with any conservation organization, I have not given nor received any compensation, material or otherwise for my views, and my posts reflect nothing more than the thoughts and feelings of one private citizen. Does that clear it up for you?

        ” However, you have no criticism for those who are actually illegally catching the Bluefin tuna.”

        Ummm…Mick? Could you possibly take a moment and scroll to the top of the page and read the headline? ROTFLMAO….sorry (deep breaths while stifling the laughter). I forgot who I was talking too. Here ya go buddy, I did it for you. “Sea Shepherd Head To Mediterranean To Stop Illegal Bluefin Fishing.” Wait…wait…still laughing….OK, I’m back. Y’know, you had me fooled on the other thread. I thought you were willing to engage in actual debate. Apparently that was an anomaly. It’s obvious to anyone who reads your writings that it is you who have some form of agenda. What or why is for someone else to care about. I honestly don’t. “On countless occasions anti-whaling advocates have mis-represented their opinions as fact.” Yup, it’s just us. No disingenuousness on the pro-whalers part at all. I read the crap you guys post, Mick. Maybe you should too.

        I’m not going to copy/paste your second-to-last paragraph because it would dignify that which is absurd. The fish vendors in all countries are resposible for knowing where the fish they are selling is coming from. If there is someone in the U.S. (and I’m sure that there is) that is peddling in illegal tuna, I sincerely hope they are caught and prosecuted. Regardless of country, if someone doesn’t know that they are dealing in illegally caught tuna, they are criminally negligent. If they do know, they are simply criminal. And, when you know (as the figures clearly show. I don’t care if they are clear to you Mick. They are clear to me) that the amount of tuna you are selling EXCEEDS the amount that should even be caught, that should be all the clue that any honest broker should need.

        Seriously Mick, if you are going to continue to call me out, then get better at it. This reply was a waste of my time. As legions of grandfathers have told their grandkids, “Never get into a battle of wits with an unarmed man.”

      • Mick

        Michael Raymer,

        “…made your intentions clear. “Find no fault with anyone except Sea Shepherd and, at all costs, defend Japan.””

        Your assumption is incorrect. I find fault where it is due. There are many faults with SS and the actions of their members. From my understanding, SS appears to be doing legitimate, legal and helpful work in the Galapagos islands. I have never claimed nor do I believe that EVERY person in Japan or the government of Japan has never done wrong.

        “I hereby certify that I am not a member nor affiliated in any way with any conservation organization..”

        I never claimed or even implied that you were.

        “Sea Shepherd Head To Mediterranean To Stop Illegal Bluefin Fishing.”

        That is precisely my point. Please note “MEDITERRANEAN” and “ILLEGAL BLUEFIN FISHING”.
        Now, let’s compare your post; “JAPAN will BUY from everyone without regard to whether their activities are legal. I mean, COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT is a huge global issue..”. Please notice the topic is Illegal fishing in the Mediterranean. Yet, YOU chose to bring up the issue of the purchase of tuna in Japan. Not to mention copyright infringement. And since then, even after being given numerous opportunities to do so, you have neglected to mention, even as an afterthought, the Med. and illegal fishing there and choose to put all of your energy into arguing about your allegations about Japan.

        “And, when you know (as the figures clearly show. I don’t care if they are clear to you Mick. They are clear to me) that the amount of tuna you are selling EXCEEDS the amount that should even be caught, that should be all the clue that any honest broker should need.”

        Now the ICCAT report you posted states, “The total imports of 32,356 t of
        processed bluefin tuna reported by Japan to ICCAT for 2007 contrast with the Total
        Allowable Catch for that year of 29,500 t.”. From this information you drew this conclusion, “There is also the fact that Japan will buy from everyone without regard to whether their activities are legal.” You also stated, “But, Bluefin is such a hot ticket item in Japan, no effort is made.” The information you provided does not support your claims. I contend that your claims are simply your opinion and not fact.
        You are painting a rather simplistic picture of the situation. Clearly there was some illegally caught tuna imported into Japan in 2007. However, it’s not like one ship pulled into port in Japan on December 31, 2007 and off-loaded 32,356 tons of tuna. I’m reasonably certain that the international trade in tuna is a rather complex affair. To expect that people can verify the legallity of every single tuna over the course of a year is illogical. Especially when there is little or no over-sight from the countries of origin. I’m sure that some was knowingly and willfully purchased by some individuals in Japan. However, to say that no effort is made to verify the legality of the tuna imported by EVERYONE involved in Japan, is complete nonsense.

  • TitaniumTotem

    I can’t help but remember what happened to the Farley Mowat after the SSCS got their new ship, the Steve Irwin.

    The Mowat was sent on a one way mission to intimidate sealers knowing full well a Canadian Coast Guard would be there and would take action. The Mowat was stopped, the officer’s arrested (and later convicted) and the vessel sold at auction. Watson had to leave the ship at their last port before the confrontation but he did give the arrested crew members the same morale support he’s giving to Peter Bethune.

    Watson was able to get rid of a worn out vessel, generate a lot of angry headlines and find a fund raising theme all in one move.

    I’m sure that just because the SSCS now has the Bob Barker, and Paul won’t be able to sail with it on it’s controversial campaign into highly restricted waters, is pure coincidence.

  • Devon VM

    I wonder how Paul Watson is going to screw this up now. It seems everything he touches ends up in the crapper.