With the season nearly over the SS-PG vessel finally left Cannes, France and went down to Valletta, Malta. It is a fabulous port a favourite of NAUTICAL LOG with great boats, people, dining, teeming with history and Malti, that most interesting language - Sahha, fejn hu Steve Irwin jekk joghgbok? Well good things come to pass and she sailed to play at 'patrol boat' but under some close observation and supervision.
First came the routine Med. air patrol of the French Navy which overflew them to confirm their course and report it to the patrolling EU warships. The Navies around here do not behave like the Australian Navy and stay hidden in port. The MS Steve Irwin was quickly met and challanged by the F979 Commandant Bouan of the French Navy. The French frigate read them a statement of being on patrol to enforce the International Commision on the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT). They ordered the SS-PG to stay clear of the fishing operations but gave permission to film for documentary purposes under Naval supervision. The seiners catch the bluefin tuna live in gill nets and then transport them to Malta for fattening up at fish farms prior to sale in the fish markets.
Later when the SS-PG failed to respond to some Italian fishermen who had told them to stay clear the fishermen called the French patrolling frigate who passed it off to the Italian Navy. They quickly responded with a fast corvette of the Italian Navy. The MS Steve Irwin retreated to await another day, seems they were learning this is NOT the Southern Ocean.
Next morning F979 was still patrolling and had been joined by Malta Navy P51. The Maltese Navy escorted the MS Steve Irwin to film some of the seining operations and allowed them to put divers into the water to film the gill net contents. So it would seem a lot can be accomplished with politeness rather than the arrogant ramming of vessels, NAUTICAL LOG thinks that 'Wats-his-name' must not be around.
The European Commisioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries has now announced that the bluefin season is closed as the legal quota has been taken. Thus the 2010 bluefin tuna season ends, the presence of the SS-PG vessel MS Steve Irwin was rather pointless but lots of great photos.