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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Tuna ranching said to be involved with Mafia, illegal immigrant trafficking
The big, big business of tuna ranching, which is done in the high seas around Malta, was claimed to hide Mafia involvement and also the illegal trafficking of immigrants.
Writing in The Daily Mail yesterday, Andrew Malone described the operation of spotter planes. He said, 'Operating illegally from airfields in Malta, Libya and Croatia, these rogue pilots call in the coordinates of the tuna shoals to the captains of more than 200 hi-tech boats waiting below.
'Whoever gets to the tuna first, claims the biggest prize in fishing history. For this is no ordinary catch. Astonishingly, each haul can be worth up to ££££10 million.
'Small wonder, then, that these traditional fishing grounds have become something akin to a battle zone with allegations of Mafia involvement, gunfights between fishermen and stories of rival boats ramming each others' nets.'
He added: 'In Malta last week, where local businessmen working with Japanese, Korean and Spanish partners are at the forefront of the tuna revolution, one fisherman would only agree to meet me incognito at a church in Valletta, the capital of the former British colony and Royal Navy fortress.
''It's like the Mob,' said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
'This is a small island. If people find out I am talking to you, I don't know what will happen. This is big money you are talking about. A lot is at stake. They don't want people to realise what goes on out at sea.'
'Listing examples where quotas had been flouted, fish illegally dumped and bribes paid to local fisheries' officials, the source also revealed that certain unscrupulous skippers had taken cash in return for letting illegal African refugees swim out to the cages and be towed into European ports, hidden among tuna.'
However, Mr Malone also interviewed Joe and Saviour Caruana, a father-and-son team of Maltese fishermen, who took him out to their tuna pen and insisted they had nothing to hide from anyone.
Joe Caruana, who employs 60 people, is scathing about the environmental groups who want to put him out of business.
'Where do these green people get their boats with big engines and the money for all their specialists and their reports?' he asked.
'They're in business, like the rest of us, and they're attacking us to make sure their backers know they are busy earning their money.'
His son, Saviour, 24, who is studying for a PhD in marine biology at Stirling University, accepted there are unscrupulous people in the ranching business.
He revealed how one notorious captain illegally killed 120 tons of tuna a couple of weeks ago after discovering a fault with his cages.
He preferred the fish to die rather than sell them to another rival boat equipped with a cage.
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Issues/Corruption / mismanagement
East Asia/South Korea