On-board Diary: June 17 - 20, 2008

Author: Keith Ellenbogen
Date: June 20, 2008



Under a full moon with strong winds, rough seas (category 7) and deep swells (reaching 8-12ft) the Oceana Marviva Med continue the course set by Expedition Leader, Xavier Pastor to monitor the purseiner fishing activity in the open Mediterranean Sea between Malta, Tunisia and Libya.

Over the course of the last 5 days our crew photographed and documented both legal and illegal purseiner fishing activates. With fishing boats rocking back and forth from side to side and small auxiliary boats hidden by the deep swells of the sea — the purseiner fishing fleets have a more difficult time catching the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. The turbulent seas also impact the ability for the tug boats or trawlers to tow the massive tuna cages (once the fish are caught) against the current to their final destination.

Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning with a high pressure system overhead, suddenly the wind stopped — causing a damp mist to cover the ocean under the dark but clear moonlight sky. Unfortunately the calm seas and the fury of a closed/closing fishing season provide an opportunity for the purseiner fishing boats to re-organize and begin their over exploitation of the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. That evening on the radar screen we observed 10 purseiner fishing boats within 1-2 nautical mile radius of our boat as well as a buoy marking a longline stretching possibly tens of miles alongside the starboard side of our boat.

As I left the bridge and looked at the stars on the horizon, I wondered how much longer can the sea sustain this assault.