'Walls of death' lead to new tuna war: Tourists suffer as Spanish fishing fleet sets up blockade against 'illegal' French fishing methods
Some 1,500 tired and angry travellers were stuck at Santander awaiting their passage on the same ship to Plymouth.
Some 25 Spanish boats in international waters blocked the entrance to the Bidasso estuary, and the French port of Hendaye, by stringing steel hawsers between each other. A French naval patrol vessel was looking on yesterday, but there were no reports of incidents.
'We will keep closing harbours until a total ban on drift-net fishing is implemented,' a representative of the Spanish fleet said. 'We do not trust the European authorities anymore.'
At around 400 boats, the Spanish tuna fleet is much larger than the French fleet of between 40 and 60 and the amount of tuna caught by Spain (some 20,000 tonnes) compared with France (4,000 tonnes declared) is far greater. The Spanish fishermen, supported by Greenpeace, say that their methods of using rods, long lines and live bait to catch albacore tuna are environmentally appropriate because they fish selectively. The French fleet, which has only been in business since the late Eighties, uses drift nets which have been banned by the United Nations. The European Union, which voted for the UN moratorium, none the less approves of drift nets, if they are no longer than 1,500 yards.
Drift nets, also known as 'walls of death', are left hanging in the water along the migratory routes of the tuna which are trapped by their gills. In the Mediterranean, hundreds of Italian boats illegally use nets to catch swordfish. Some Spanish boats use drift nets to fish illegally in the Straits of Gibraltar.
Overfishing as a result of the high technology now at the disposal of fishing fleets has revolutionised fishing and put huge pressure on stocks. The skills required of a skipper to locate and catch fish have been supplanted by satellite imagery (showing the temperature of currents and the location of schools of fish). Directional sonar lets skippers find shoals of fish with pinpoint accuracy.
Cheap nylon monofilament, which is invisible to fish, can be set (illegally) up to 40 miles and with refrigeration and mother ships, hundreds of tonnes of fish can be frozen before the fleet returns to port. The 'hi-tech fishing' allows vessels to scoop up entire schools of fish indiscriminately, with no account for undersize fish or other species.
The killing of dolphins during tuna fishing has become a highly emotive issue in the United States. Such was the public outcry over the practice that the US banned the imports of tuna from countries that use these methods.
The new tuna war between France and Spain has the potential to turn violent and has already seen the capture of a French drift netter, the Gabrielle, by Spanish fishermen. They claim to have found an illegal 3-mile-long drift net in the ship's hold.
The European Commission has long winked at the practices of French fishermen, knowing that without inspectors on board ships, it is next to impossible to police the 1,500-yard rule for drift nets. Last week the Commission acquired new powers to have independent inspectors vet both Spanish and French boats, but that has not satisfied the angry Spanish fishermen.
The Commission, which is embarrassed by the squabble between France and Spain, said yesterday that what was needed was a new scientific study on the use of drift- net fishing methods by France, Italy, Spain, Britain, Ireland and Denmark.
The Fisheries Commissioner, Yannis Paleokrassas, also stressed that drift nets must be banned. However, that would take a decision of EU fisheries ministers who do not meet until 28 September.
(Photographs and graphic omitted)
auctionThe first 23 lots have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
healthJames Bond's alcohol consumption puts him at 'high risk' of cirrhosis, tremors... and impotence
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
tvSpoiler alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ sign language interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 5 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- < Previous
- Next >
£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior C# ASP.NET Deve...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: QA Automation Tester FX Trading Platform(Ruby, ...
£25000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: VB.NET SQL Developer/...
£45000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA ...