Bluefin trafficking at La Maddalena harbour. (Photo: oceansentry.org/Stock File/FIS)
Bluefin trafficking ring unearthed
Friday, July 29, 2011, 02:10 (GMT + 9)
A survey carried out in La Maddalena harbour, in Cerdeña, has dug up a vast international bluefin tuna trafficking ring and found evidence for 1,000 administrative violations for about EUR 4 million. There are 70 suspects, who are being investigated.
The fraud, which could involve organised crime groups, was carried out via the avoidance or falsification of the Bluefin Catch Documents (BCD) mandatory under European Union (EU) law concerning the fishing and trading of bluefin tuna -- an endangered species.
The results of the survey, which was launched in August 2010, were presented this week at a press conference held in the Coast Guard Headquarters, in La Maddalena, with the presence of the master of the captaincy in La Maddalena, Fabio Poletto, and the public prosecutor of Tempio, Riccardo Rossi.
The audit conducted in a wholesale market in Arzachena region highlighted the absence of BCD and led to a request to produce all the documents in its possession and introduce controls through a working team headed by Poletto, AGI reports.
Inspectors found numerous violations and unearthed a system of illegal trade that functioned through the circumvention and falsification of documents, and in particular the tampering of dates that allowed fishers to re-use the documents.
Involved in the operation were nine maritime directions, a harbour master and six district offices in the maritime sector from Italy. The defendants include owners of 12 centres and approximately 60 wholesale distribution centres.
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By Natalia Real