Current Affairs
General Commission for Mediterranean Fisheries to protect Maltese fishermen

The General Commission for Mediterranean Fisheries has agreed unanimously to intervene to protect Maltese fishermen who become involved in arguments with foreign fishermen in fishing territories.

This should provide greater peace of mind for Maltese fishermen as the Commission has agreed to act as intermediaries when disputes arise, particularly over lampuki fishing.

This follows reports in recent months of disputes between Maltese and Tunisian fishermen over the placement of lampuki palm frond lures.

An official from the Department for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Gilbert Balzan, told TVM the Commission will take direct action where foreign fishermen are caught in illegal fishing on lures registered in Maltese territory.

He said Maltese fishermen will report and the Department will monitor. A report will be made to the GFCM and the Commission will take direct action on the country concerned that have to respond to the illegality.

Asked whether this will affect Maltese fishermen, Balzan said that Malta has been conforming to the European system for some time.

He said there will be no difference in registration and there will be continued insistence that foreign fishermen conform to regulations.

Mario Carabott, a veteran fisherman, told TVM that conflict between Maltese and foreign fishermen has been going on for many years. He said this has been ongoing for 15 and even 20 years. He said the fish were so abundant that Gozitan fishermen reasoned that if they arrived first they would succeed but if the Tunisians arrived before them they remained empty handed.

Carabott explained that Tunisian fishermen have larger fishing boats including metal boats and this renders Maltese fishermen to be apprehensive of them, particularly Gozitan fishermen who set their palm frond lures in a zone where Tunisian fishermen fish.