Bluefin tuna: Mediterranean purse seiners on their way to the Balearic and Malta fishing season

It is always an event. The equipment of tuna seiners for the bluefin tuna fishing season. 22 boats weigh anchor in the Mediterranean. The majority, about fifteen, leave from Sète. Head for Malta and the Balearic Islands. This fishery is highly regulated with a quota and a precise schedule to be respected.

After the preparations of the boats, at the quay in Sète, the tuna seiners have taken to the sea in recent days. Direction the waters of the Balearic Islands and those located between Malta and the coasts of Libya.

The port of Sète hosts the largest fleet of tuna seiners in the Mediterranean. 15 ships.

All the way to battle, Quai Général Durand, it's the departure for the Anne-Antoine 2. The tuna seiner 50 meters long, with a 1,000 horsepower and 16-cylinder engine, weighs 280 tonnes. He sets sail for the Balearic Islands, he needs a long day's sailing to reach the fishing area opposite Ibiza.

Its 2022 quota is 140 tonnes, it is 5,351 tonnes for French fishermen in the Mediterranean. On board, an ICCAT observer, la International Commission for the Conservation of Tunas, will closely monitor the catches, which must not be less than 30 kilos. Only adult specimens are allowed.

Its role is to control us. He verifies each catch at each catch and each catch paper. He is there to see that we are not cheating on the quota.

Marc Di Rocco, second in the Anne-Antoine 2.

If the weather is good, the campaign for this seiner could be done in less than 15 days. Because he will then have reached his fishing quota for the year.

We have a month to work, so we must not miss it.

Patrick Billière, sailor aboard the Anne-Antoine 2.

After weeks of preparing the boat and the net, the sea air attracts the sailors.

The crew is made up of 13 sailors. The several kilometer long net is heavy, 30 tons alone. Physical work.

Which does not scare Mathis, a trainee sailor, student at the Lycée de la Mer Paul Bousquet in Sète. Impatient, he will live his first campaign.

There is a bit of rain forecast and some wind but it will be fine. It's a big boat. My parents are proud that I was able to find this internship. I can not wait to leave.

Mathis Laurendon, trainee seaman.

Since 2007, with European controls, the resource has recovered and the tuna is there again. The quota allocated to Mediterranean purse seiners is 5,351 tonnes this year. It is 601 tonnes for the Atlantic and 60 tonnes for recreational fishing.

Between 1998 and 2007, 50,000 tonnes of bluefin tuna were caught in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic each year. In 2009, the quota is set at 13,500 tonnes, with controls on the boats.
The increase in the resource and the lobbying of fishermen made it possible to raise this global threshold to 28,200 tonnes in 2018, then 36,000 tonnes from 2020, including 6,026 tonnes for France.

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