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Tuna 'Ranching' Courts Controversy

by Ellen Hardy
28 January 2008, at 12:00am

MALTA - An aquaculture census has revealed that fish cages, occupying an area the equivalent of 11 football pitches, provides the backbone of Malta's fish farming sector.

A total of 80 cages, with a surface area of 78,773 sq.m are used to produce and farm a fish, says a recently published Census on Fisheries by the National Office of Statistics.

According to the NSO, total production of farmed fish in 2005 amounted to 5.1 million kilograms, yielding a value of €48 million. Bluefin tuna, which accounted for 82.6 per cent of the total weight of farmed fish, yielded €44 million.

A report in Malta Today says that the aquaculture industry currently employs 192 people, of which 130 are full-time employees. The remainder work on part-time or seasonal basis or are foreign workers.

Tuna penning, which involves the fattening in cages of wild-caught tuna, is included in the survey as tuna farming - which has cause some controversy.

The World Wildlife Fund says that true aquaculture, is where fish are bred and reared in captivity. Malta's penning system cannot be catagorised as such.

The WWF has warned that over fishing of tuna ranched in countries like Malta could lead to the extinction of the species. Last year is demanded an immediate three-year closure of the Mediterranean blue fin tuna fishery, because of low stocks and a season of unprecedented illegal and uncontrolled fishing.

To read the full story click here.

Ellen Hardy