18 Jun 2010

Sea Shepherd Frees 800 Bluefin from Floating Cages Below Libya’s Infamous Line of Death

Sea Shepherd’s helicopter reconnaissance flight this morning found two fishing vessels. One was engaged in transferring bluefin tuna into one of the two nets being towed by the other vessel.

The bluefin fishery vessels were inside waters claimed by Libya and about 42 miles off the coast of North Africa.

At 1300 hours, the Steve Irwin came upon the Italian vessel Cesare Rustico towing two cages; one contained about 800 fish (the other was empty).


Their statement that all the catches were caught on the 14th sounded much too convenient, so we asked to examine the fish for juveniles. We were refused. I then put the bow of the Steve Irwin onto the cage so we could look into the cage from the bow to examine it further.

Suddenly, the Maltese vessel Rosaria Tuna rammed the Steve Irwin on the aft port side and slid alongside the port rail, as a fisherman tried to violently gaff Sea Shepherd crewmembers with a long, sharp-hooked pole.

The Steve Irwin crew retaliated with 8 liters of rotten butter forcing the fishing vessel to retreat and to stand off.

At 1530 hours, the two fishing vessels circled their cages defensively and the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin stood off to notify ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna) of possible violations. They did not respond.

Sometimes it is necessary to do what needs to be done despite the risks. The risk of losing the bluefin tuna as a species is far more important than the risks to our own lives and freedom.

And so we decided to free the tuna.


At 1600 hours, a five-person dive crew entered one of two cages being towed by the Italian fishing vessel Cesare Rustico.

As the Steve Irwin held off the Cesare Rustico and the support ship Rosaria Tuna, the Sea Shepherd crew dove into the net to identify the size, age, and quantity of the bluefin tuna within. Once it was clearly established that the cage was overstocked and that a high percentage were juveniles, Sea Shepherd divers freed the 700-800 tuna.  

Read the whole story at Sea Shepherd