NAUTICAL LOG has just received an e-mail and an eight page Press Release from the Maltese newspaper "Times of Malta" www.timesofmalta.com/ . In a clash between fishermen and the Sea Shepherds the latter has reverted to the tactics used against the Japanese in the Southern Ocean.
It is reported that a Maltese fisherman is being airlifted to hospital in Valletta this evening for treatment of an arm injured by a grapnel. In a clash with the SS-PG one of whom threw the grapnel at a tuna pen to tear it open. The fishermen entered the pen to remove the grapnel and suffered an injured arm when the SS-PG pulled the grapnel back. A quantity of tuna are reported to have escaped from the pen. Other Maltese fishermen on the trawler report bruising from rubber bullets fired by the SS-PG. The incident took place about 35 miles off Tripoli, Libya were the Maltese were towing a pen of legally caught tuna. A Government of Malta statement supports the fishermen and said that the fish had been legally caught.
Not satisfied with causing this injury the MS Steve Irwin set off towards the Libyan coast looking for more trouble. They found two Italian seiners the Cesare Rustico and the Tagreft and reported them to ICCAT as 'possible violators'. They were towing two cages one of which had 800 legally caught fish and one empty. It was stated by the Italians that all eight seiners had put the fish in one cage for towing. When the MS Steve Irwin approached the Italians reacted to prevent the 'black ship' stealing their catch. The Italian vessel Rosario Tuna rammed the MS Steve Irwin and used gaffs to protect their catch. The SS-PG retaliated with rotten butter bombs and the seiner retreated.
It is clear that previous Press Releases from SS-PG with quotes published by NAUTICAL LOG are largely untruthful and it was the intention of the SS-PG vessel MS Steve Irwin to cause trouble. They then claim that the fishing was illegal when they in fact have no training or ability to assess this as fact. The reaction in Malta is strong and one hopes the Government of Malta will use its Navy with the assistance of the Italian Navy, since they are Italian fishermen, to arrest the MS Steve Irwin. Get this Netherlands Flag State pirate vessel off the Mediterranean Sea and indeed the High Seas once and for all, exercise the International Arrest Warrant issued against Paul Watson and detain him for the Japanese Courts.