National Geographic magazine described Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi, as a “dapper Spaniard and former professional diver who heads Advanced Tuna Ranching Technologies.” Advanced Tuna Ranching Technologies – well that in itself explains his animosity towards Sea Shepherd. He’s an aqua culture advocate who supports the capture and farm-raising of tuna for the market.
Although Sea Shepherd has been on the frontlines for the last couple of years concerning the problem of bluefin tuna fishing, I’ve never heard of him, but then again, I usually don’t waste much time debating so-called experts who sit at their desks pontificating on the politically correct way to save the world while they work both sides of the table.
It seems that Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi has heard of Sea Shepherd, and apparently he does not seem to like us, nothing unusual about that of course. Lots of people don’t like Sea Shepherd and our methods, especially people in the business of exploiting fish and we are quite fine with that. We have never pretended to be in the running for the title of most popular and most polite kiss-ass conservation organization. I think our Jolly Roger logo pretty much sums up our “in their face” attitude. But I’m sure that the 800 or so bluefin tuna we released from a poacher’s net last year were in approval of our methods and that is what counts.
Last year Greenpeace attacked the first tuna seiner they encountered despite the fact that the fishermen were operating legally. They initiated an assault on a French registered vessel, attempted to damage the net, and ended up with one of their own crew impaled through the leg with a gaff. Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi must have approved because he works for Greenpeace and thus property damage appears to have been justified, in his mind, concerning that incident.
Now the reason for this commentary is the fact that Sea Shepherd France President Lamya Essemlali recently sent a message to Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi in an attempt to determine the legality of a particular Tunisian tuna seining operation. We did not wish to attack an innocent vessel, we’re not Greenpeace, after all!
Sea Shepherd ONLY targets illegal activities in our role as an anti-poaching organization, and since we assumed that Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi was in opposition to poaching, we assumed he would be cooperative with our efforts to oppose unlawful tuna fishing.
Lamya was unaware that Robert Mielgo Bregazzi had worked for the very people whose nets we cut the previous year. And so she sent the following message:
From: Lamya Essemlali
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2011 3:18 PM
To: Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi
Subject: urgent question from sea shepherd
Hi Mister Mielgo,
We are currently patrolling the Mediterranean and we've found a tugboat carrying 113 tons of BFT brought by two Tunisian purse seiners. I know Tunisia has an 853-ton quota and 23 purse seiners, but I hear that the fishing plan for Tunisia had not been approved by ICCAT, impossible to verify this information with the authorities and/or the ICCAT.
We cannot take any action if we are not 100% that this info is true. If you have any additional information about that, it would be extremely useful.
Thank you very much,
Presidente Sea Shepherd France
Now it seems to me that the above message was polite, and respectfully asked for clarification on the legality of Tunisian fishing permits. In other words it was a responsible request because Sea Shepherd did not wish to take action against a lawful operation. But Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi responded with this rather rude message:
From: Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi
To: Lamya Essemlali
CC: (he copied a great many people to let them know his views on Sea Shepherd)
Subject: Re: urgent question from sea shepherd
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2011 16:51:14 +0200
Dear Ms. Essemlali,
Thank you for your email today,
To the best of my knowledge:
1. Tunisia has a fully approved 2011 BFT fishing Plan by ICCAT.
2. I do not know which tugboat you are referring too.
3. If you are referring to Tugboat Hergla3 approached by MV/Steve Irwin some 48h ago at 34º11’;13º57’, such tugboat and its cargo are, to the best of my knowledge, in full compliance with ICCAT regulations, quotas and transfer requirements.
4. Tugboat Hergla3 as well as other tugboats outside the Libyan 62nm fishing zone are fully being covered, inspected and tracked both by ICCAT inspectors on board ICCAT Inspection vessels in zone as well as by EU-CFCA.
5. Please note for the record, that I fully and without reserve disapprove Sea Shepherd’s methods at sea.
6. Your cavalier understanding of eco-action is irremediably harming the cause of preserving the BlueFin Tuna, a fight for which many of us, including myself, have fought for many long years without resolving to violence or acts of blunt piracy.
7. You seem to have unilaterally taken the Law into your own hands and have thus become nothing else than a cheap vigilante, trying to slime-up the celebrity ladder by pulling foul stunts for your own public.
8. I, for one, totally disassociate myself from such garbage and would be grateful to you if you could please refrain from ever getting in touch with me again.
Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi
Well, thank you very much Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi! We appreciate your answer but are mystified as to why you felt the need to slander us with false accusations. We realize that Greenpeace is not happy that Sea Shepherd has a popular television show but are curious as to why a television show bringing important marine conservation issues to the general public is referred to as “sliming up the celebrity ladder.”
Lamya answered the rather rude response from Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi:
From: Lamya Essemlali
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2011 5:41 PM
To: Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi
Cc: Subject: RE: urgent question from sea shepherd
Dear Mister Mielgo,
Thank you very much for your answer. Since you mention it, we note that you disapprove of our methods, which is fine. You're not the first or the last but it's always good to know. This being said we obviously do not have the same definition of violence and you're mistaken about our intentions. If fame was our objective, I can think of far more effective methods and easier ways to get there, such as attacking the first legal tuna fishing boat we come across or stopping legal ships from leaving port: Head lines guaranteed!
I fail to see how we, in targeting poaching activities are in any way ruining your efforts to preserve BFT, but interestingly enough, small fishermen in Malta (and elsewhere) tend to disagree with you and publically support our actions. I guess they're just fans of "blunt piracy".
Thanks again for your time,
There was a bit more back and forth communication between the two, and Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi called us more names and made more accusations, but we will not waste your time with the drivel written by an eco-double agent.
There is a fundamental problem with the conservation and environmental movement. There seems to be a lack of understanding about the importance of diversity. Like any eco-system, a movement is strong due to diversity of ideas, tactics, strategies, and actions. The approaches can range from education to litigation to legislation to civil disobedience. People should agree to disagree when they are fighting for the same objectives.
The fact is that there is only one organization with ships on the water in the Mediterranean confronting bluefin tuna poachers and that organization is Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. There isn’t a single Greenpeace ship addressing this problem this year. Greenpeace has never dared to enter the territorial waters of Libya. Greenpeace has not freed a single fish from a net.
What Greenpeace did last year was blockade a legally registered French tuna fleet and assault a legally operated French registered tuna vessel off of Malta. That intervention caused property damage to the fishermen and resulted in serious injuries to some Greenpeace crew (actions that Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi obviously supports as a paid consultant to Greenpeace because he has not said a single word in opposition to their actions).
Sea Shepherd, on the other hand, has only targeted and intervened against illegal fishing operations. We have not injured anyone nor have we had any of our crew injured; yet Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi condemns us and condones Greenpeace. What is the difference? The answer is simple. Greenpeace pays Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi and Sea Shepherd does not.
The Sea Shepherd position is and always has been to work in cooperation with all governments and non-governmental organizations concerned about poaching. Sea Shepherd is an anti-poaching organization. We don’t bear witness, we don’t hang banners, we don’t simply take pictures, and we don’t stage media stunts for the purpose of appearing to be effective.
What we do is to target and intervene effectively and physically, yet non-violently, against illegal operations exploiting marine life and habitats – these are the things that Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi appears to have a problem with.
It appears that Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi is a very confused man who needs to get up from behind his desk and out on the water where he can deal with real problems with real poachers. He needs to actually see the problem and he needs to realize that bluefin tuna poachers are not interested in what he has to say or what he thinks except when they are paying him to say the right things. Otherwise they need only ignore him…and they do.
What the poachers can’t ignore is Sea Shepherd. We are chasing them out of restricted fishing areas, monitoring their activities, and patrolling to find violators. We are directly interfering with illegal operations, cutting illegal nets, and freeing illegally caught tuna. We are bringing this issue to the general public in the media using the most powerful weapon we have – the camera!
Who could possibly have a problem with that? Other than “bluefin tuna fishing “expert” Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi?