AN operation into illegal tuna fishing resulted in nine arrests in Almeria and investigations into a further three individuals.
Inspectors from the Agriculture Ministry’s Fisheries General Secretariat and agents from the Guardia Civil’s SEPRONA nature protection service took part in the operation. Dubbed ‘Tarannuta’, it was launched to investigate furtive fishing activities from leisure craft over the tuna fishing season on the back of complaints from the professional sector and the corresponding threat to the species.
Investigations led to the seizure of nine tuna fish with a joint weight of close to two tonnes and a market value of €59,000. Divers recovered one fish from where it had been hidden on the sea bottom in Villaricos after a Guardia helicopter clearly made out tuna on board a boat getting ready to dock in the port.
The boat turned round when the crew spotted the Guardia, but a Provincial Maritime Service craft caught up with it and directed it back to Villaricos.
Spanish press reported the Guardia to believe there was evidence there could be some kind of organised networks behind the illegal tuna fishing given the species value of somewhere in the regions of €30 to 40 a kilo. The average weight of a tuna fish is some 200 kilos.