After MaltaToday story, MEP calls on Brussels to protect lampuki fishermen

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba has called on the European Commission to protect Maltese and Gozitan lampuki fishermen

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba
Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba

The Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba has said he is “pressuring” the European Commission to help Maltese fishermen during the lampuki season to stop the illegal fishing practices of Tunisian fishing vessels.

Documented evidence published in MaltaToday revealed that dozens of Tunisian fishermen are coordinating a mass theft of Maltese and Gozitan lampuki catches along their fishing lines, by stealing the kannizzatti floats employed in the capture of the dolphin fish.

Tunisians plundering Maltese and Gozitan lampuki catches

Agius Saliba called on the European Commission to investigate “and break the intimidating and dishonest Tunisian fishing model, including the illegitimate exploitation of Maltese fishermen’s fishing devices.”

He also asked the European Commission to put pressure on the Tunisian authorities through the current trade negotiations or the EU financial assistance instruments, as financial help to Tunisia had increased substantially during the years.

READ the story • War on the high seas: Tunisian plundering Maltese and Gozitan lampuki catches

“Maltese and Gozitan fishermen are continuously reporting, recurrent, and systematic problems during the lampuki season. Tunisian boats are pilfering lampuki catches from Maltese float rafts. They are destroying Maltese floats and lines. They are also using strong-arm tactics to stop the Maltese fishermen from accessing their equipment,” Agius Saliba said.

“Life is already hard for the Maltese and Gozitan lampuki fishermen, who are constantly pressed by the growing competition from the Italian, Spanish, Greek, and Tunisian fishers. But now they also have to live in fear of their lives and livelihood because Tunisian boats are harvesting their catch.”

The MEP said the exploitation and illegal practices over Maltese and Gozitan fishermen are not new and should stop immediately. “Since these incidents happened in international waters, we need to put pressure on Tunisian authorities at European level. The Commission should take the necessary steps and stop those incidents.”

“That is why I have asked the European Commission to intervene on behalf of Maltese and Gozitan fishermen and prevent such illegal practices from happening.”

The former MEP candidate Peter Agius, who had been the first to raise the issue back in 2018 by filing a complaint with the European Commission, also made reference to MaltaToday's story earlier in the week.

On Thursday however, Agius remarked at the irony of the Italian government having hammered out a deal with the Libyan governmnet for Italian fishermen to catch fish in Libyan waters, remarking that parliamentary secretary Clint Camilleri was unable to even seek agreement from the Tunisian state to stop the theft of Maltese fish.