Europol rolls up illegal bluefin tuna trade, arrested 79 people

admin • 23 October, 2018 •  Reports  

In Spain, an international illegal bluefin tuna trade has been dismantled. According to the international police organization Europol the suspects earned millions by trading 2.5 millions kilos of fish every year. After months of research in Spain, Malta, Italy, Portugal and France  the Spanish police arrested 79 people and 80,000 kilos of illegally caught bluefin tuna were seized.

Double bottom

Research has shown that the fish were illegally caught in the waters of Italy and Malta. The tune was then transported together with legally caught fish to French ports. The illegal catch was hidden under a double bottom under the deck of the fishing vessels, and was not passed on during inspectations. The tuna was eventually traded in Spain. According to Europol, the illegal trade provided the suspects with more than € 12 million per year. The illegal bluefin tuna market is about twice as large as the legal trade, in which about 1.25 million kilos of tuna are sold each year.


Bluefin tuna is widely used in sushi, in a salad or as a steak. Due its his popularity, the species in the Mediterranian an the Atlantic Ocean is threatened with extinction as a direct result of overfishing.