The media-savvy eco-pirates of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have a new target in their sights: commercial fishing boats that illegally scoop endangered bluefin tuna out of the sea.
The Sea Shepherd activists have become famous for harassing Japanese whaling ships; a reality TV show about their exploits documented the many tricks the activists used to slow down the whalers, including shooting stink bombs onto their ships and attempting to disable their propellers. With their new project, dubbed Operation Blue Rage, the activists hope to bring the same level of attention to the fight to save endangered tuna.
Stocks of bluefin tuna have fallen by roughly 85% since the industrial fishing era began…. Yet despite quotas that are arguably too high to begin with, quotas are still being ignored in many places [Ecopolitology].
Conservationists suffered a major setback this spring, when an international meeting failed to pass new protections for the bluefin tuna, which is highly valued by sushi chefs. In light of this political inaction, Sea Shepherd decided to act. Its flagship, the Steve Irwin, is now en route to the Mediterranean to begin a harassment campaign against ships that are illegally pulling the endangered fish from the sea.
Steve Irwin First Officer Locky Maclean acknowledges that it will be somewhat difficult to find tuna poachers among those fishing boats that comply with the lax laws, but says there are a few tricks the activists can use.
First, the legal season for bluefin tuna is just 30-days. “Where we come into play, where we can operate and enforce, is on vessels fishing outside that season, after the June 15th cutoff or before the May 15th start date. If we come across vessels purse seining outside of that time frame…we’re in a position to enforce [the law].” Second, there is the ICCAT list of vessels, “enables us to know the names of the vessels which cannot fish in that area” [Treehugger].
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