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Italian and French fishermen oppose blue fin tuna ban

by Staff Writers
Valletta (AFP) June 17, 2008
A number of Italian and French fishermen Tuesday staged a protest outside the offices of the European Union delegation near Valletta over the EU decision to ban some fishing for bluefin tuna.

Some 300 fishermen have warned they will block the Grand Harbour in Valletta and the fishing port of Marsaxlokk unless they are given an appointment with EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg in Malta or in Brussels.

The fishermen have some 30 trawlers based in Malta and 15 others are expected to join them. They insist that because of poor weather they only fished for a few days and have not yet achieved the fishing quota.

They said blocking the ports would make people realise their plight.

The European Commission said Friday it would close the industrial tuna fishing season early to protect the increasingly popular species.

The move targets fishing by purse seiners, boats that draw nets around whole schools of fish before drawing them in. They account for 70 percent of all bluefin tuna hauls.

Pasquale della Monica, a spokesman for the fishermen, claims that it was unfair that their competitors from Croatia, Libya and Tunisia can still fish for tuna. He said the fishermen wanted to meet with Borg in a bid to find a solution.

"If no plausible solution is found, we will take all fishermen to the streets and block the main routes of Malta," he warned.

A spokesman for the delegation of the EU Commission in Malta, Edward Demicoli, told the fishermen that he would convey to Borg the fishermen's request for a meeting.

Demicoli later delivered Borg's reply that he was always ready to meet fishermen's organisations, but such a meeting could not be held before Monday.

A spokesman for the fishermen said they were not satisfied since the meeting needed to be held urgently, given that the fishing season was advanced.

Fishing for blue fin tuna using purse seiner nets was banned as from last Monday, but Maltese fishermen were not affected since they use the traditional methods to fish tuna.

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Panic over delayed rainfall grips northern Nigeria
Kano (AFP) June 17, 2008
Farmers and agronomists in northern Nigeria said Tuesday they fear this year's late rainfall may hurt harvests and worsen the food shortage in the region.

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