Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson said Malta's politicians were being bribed by the tuna industry.
During tonight's parliamentary sitting, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi revealed that the Maltese government has initiated legal proceedings over an interview published by New Europe.
Gonzi was replying to a parliamentary question forwarded by Nationalist backbencher Jesmond Mugliett in regards to an interview which was published on the magazine about Malta's tuna fishing industry.
In an interview published last month, Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson was quoted as saying "what is happening in Malta is that there is a whole illegal enterprise going on there with the full support of the politicians who are being bribed by these tuna fishermen."
Mugliett asked whether libel proceeding will be undertaken by the government and the Prime Minister replied in the affirmative. "Following legal advice, it has been decided to initiate libel proceedings abroad," Gonzi said.
In the interview, Sea Shepherd's founder Paul Watson delivered a scathing judgement of Malta's political class, claiming the Bluefin tuna industry has been lining MPs' pockets to sanction their allegedly illegal fishing trade.
Watson - who has led expeditions in the Mediterranean to scupper Maltese tuna ranches - referred to the Maltese tuna industry as a "whole illegal enterprise" that has the full support of the politicians "who are being bribed by these tuna fishermen".
Watson said overfishing of Bluefin tuna was making the industry richer by driving prices up as the species is driven closer to extinction, but that the EU, and Malta, were doing little to enforce conservation laws.
"The EU has all the rules and regulations that protect our oceans, however, what they do not have is enforcement. We have a lack of will on the part of governments to enforce international conservation law. They need to get out there and arrest the bastards.
"But, they are doing this because too much money is passing hands under the table going to many politicians in Europe, just like in Malta; there is no question that Maltese politicians are on the take."