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MT 18 September 2016

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maltatoday, SUNDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2016 26 Letters A World Wildlife Federation report on the plundering of bluefin tuna stocks in the Mediterranean has located Malta at the heart of the over-fishing and undeclared stocks of tuna by European, Libyan and Tunisian f leets, warning of a high risk of collapse in fish resources. The report revealed there was almost no more bluefin tuna to be fished in some of the oldest fishing grounds, es- pecially in West Mediterranean where catches around the Balearic islands dwindling to 15 per cent of what they were just a decade ago. Malta stands out as a prime area in which f leets from fishing giants like Grupo Ricardo Fuentes are shifting operations away from Spanish waters to the last breeding grounds for bluefin tuna by relocating in Malta, Cyprus, Libya and Tunisia to cut down on cage- towing, labour and fuel costs. Fuentes operate the world-leading conglomerate of bluefin tuna fishing and ranching companies, accounting for some 60 per cent of total ranched tuna in the Mediterranean. The WWF claimed Malta is "clearly becoming a magnet" for tuna ranch- ing operators due to its EU status and position in the centre of the Mediter- ranean. In 2006 it is believed Malta will house the single largest acquaculture zone in the entire Mediterranean Sea with an estimated 9,000 metric-tonnes of ranched bluefin tuna output. The independent report claims that unreported catches in Libya's fisheries zone are estimated at 3,570 tonnes, 60 per cent in excess of the quotas allo- cated by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). A Korean-Maltese-Libyan "Tuna Hotel" joint venture inside Libya's fish- eries zone last year accounted for 1,750 tonnes of tuna being transferred live to cages, slaughtered and processed at sea. A further 910 tonnes were purse-seined and slaughtered at sea by Libyan ves- sels. These catches remain unreported to ICCAT. The report also says purse seine fish- ing there has benefited from illegal tuna-spotting f lights in June, some of them being operated from Malta and Lampedusa. Further outrage was caused by the fact that most of the EU tuna fishing f leets operating in the Mediterranean were completely renewed in the last ten years thanks to massive EU public funds out of the former Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG). "Bluefin tuna fishing is currently running out of control, pointing to the likely pre-collapse of this fishery. The 2006 fishing season (May-June) is the worst ever on record – only a few hundred tunas had been caught at mid-season, which suggest the effec- tive collapse of this fishery, the oldest bluefin tuna fishery in the Mediter- ranean," the report stated, which was compiled by Advanced Tuna Ranching Technologies. An increasing amount of unreported tuna catches are being shipped out of the Mediterranean to Japan, the largest importer of the prized tuna belly meat which forms part of the sushi delicacy. The last ten years has seen a massive demand for the bluefin tuna species for sushi, which involves catching live fish at sea and rearing the animals for several months in f loating cages. This increases the fish's body weight and value, but it also opened the f loodgates to increased fishing throughout the whole year, not just the three-month fishing season. Between 2004 and January 2006, Japan imported a total of Lm40 million in tuna originating from Malta. Send your letters to: The Editor, MaltaToday, MediaToday Ltd. Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016 | Fax: (356) 21 385075 E-mail: Letters to the Editor should be concise. No pen names are accepted. 17 September, 2006 There's never 'enough' in business Tax authorities must wake up Can anybody believe that some- body applied to put a kiosk on a piece of land that is to be the enjoyed by the public and that was recently embellished by the Local Council, which put more plants and more benches for the enjoyment of mainly the Mosta residents? Putting of a kiosk there will be a big setback for the already regu- lated indoor businesses, which have already seen some owners pay big money. What the kiosk would provide can already be provided by the established out- lets, and they could do a better job at it too! This is no competi- tion but daylight robbery. What is more, if approved, the kiosk will also reduce or take over the space which the general public is enjoying now – another robbery! If approved, the kiosk will take a mile. If the applicant is pru- dent, he will apply for a permit for tables and chairs, and if he is a bully, he won't even bother to apply. He won't be the first or the second. At the moment, there is something that one can learn from – the fish farms. One will notice that kiosk appli- cants use the word 'mobile'. For me, this word is a catch and is just thrown around to soften the severity of the development. I support the stand which the Local Council took, but it could be that it is not enough. I encourage people to speak out by writing in newspaper. I want to hear from the people who we, the Mosta residents, have put in a high position. I also wish to hear from the local archpriest, due to the fact that, if approved, this kiosk will restrict the f low of churchgoers. I would like to hear from the political parties, whoever they are. I want someone who is in the saddle at the moment to write and approve a law that says that from this moment on no more of these obscenities will be ap- proved or even applied for in or near prominent places or in town centres. Keep it up Mayor Edwin Vas- sallo, and all the other council- lors. Joseph Muscat Mosta Malta at heart of Mediterranean tuna crisis I am in agreement with your leader (What happened to the Panama Papers investigation?, 11 September), and the effects of our own Panama investigations, an is- sued which seems to have fizzled out. This week's news that Leo Brin- cat has failed to be appointed as member of the European Court of Auditors by the European Parlia- ment only seems to confirm once again how damaging the Panama Papers revelations have been for Malta. I also feel that it is useless talk- ing about Panama without the context of the entire, global tax justice spectrum, which the EU is right now keen on analysing: again, problems for Malta on this front as your front-page story keenly showed. Even though Leo Brincat him- self is not implicated in the Panama Papers, it is a pity that a person like the veteran minister and MP seems to find it fit to only 'admit' that he had deep person- al reservations about the prime minister's decision to retain Mizzi in the Cabinet – and that he even considered resigning as a result – in Brussels, instead of facing up to his electorate. The truth is that Joseph Mus- cat has made a fatal error in not owning up to the egregious er- ror of retaining Konrad Mizzi his Cabinet. Not only that, but I find it highly controversial that the public remains without any dependable information on what the tax authorities are doing on the Panama investigations (and for that matter, the Swissleaks investigation) when we read of international news reports about vociferous tax investigations go- ing on elsewhere in the world. This culture of silence in Malta is truly unacceptable. I for one cannot be convinced that such a state of affairs can be considered normal. My final point is about a com- ment that Alfred Sant made, about a golden rule for MEPs never to vote against the national interest. Indeed I would retort: whose national interest? Maybe there is some truth in what the Opposition says that anything or anyone connected to the Panama Papers in Malta cannot be con- sidered to be idoneous to be a member of the European Court of Auditors. Having said that, I do feel that there is some irony in Leo Brin- cat's failure to clinch the nomina- tion. When Louis Galea, the for- mer PN minister, was proposed to the European Court of Auditors, I seem to remember that Labour was not interested in seeing the controversial minister's bid fail: as we know, Galea had a colour- ful history, what with the AWTS scandal and the Foundation for Tomorrow's Schools magisterial inquiries. But still, the times have changed, and Panama is certainly top on the agenda, at least inside the Eu- ropean Parliament. I'd say Labour is still reaping this harvest, and will do so for as long as no serious action on the matter is taken. Robert Sultana, Mosta

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