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Dispute over Tuna Trade Figures

MALTA - A dispute has broken out over official figures of bluefin tuna exports from Malta to Japan.

A report in Malta Today said there was a discrepancy of more than 6 million kg between the international trade report figures released by the fisheries department and the estimate of how much could physically be exported.

Malta Today quoted from Japan's official statistical declarations to ICCAT (the international tuna conservation authority), as well the Japanese government's own official import records, regarding bluefin tuna exported by Malta.

According to these sources, Malta Today says, Malta would have exported to Japan nearly 12 million kg of bluefin tuna between June 2007 and March 2008. Bluefin tuna can fetch prices of up to €20 a kilo on the Japanese market.

However, Malta Today says, an industry intelligence report published by ATRT late last year suggested that the total stock of live bluefin tuna present in Malta’s fish-farms at the time – and therefore available for export – could not have been more than 4.8 million kg.

The Maltese the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Resources, Rural Affairs and Agriculture has now released a clarification report containing its own figures of Malta's exports to Japan.

This report confirmed Japan's figures of 11.9 million kg, and also Asahi Shinbum's estimate of 6.8 million kg; but argued that the Malta Today article failed to also include the statistics for tuna products exported to Japan from third countries via transhipment in Maltese ports.