In the ever-growing story surrounding the tuna scandal, Andreina Fenech Farrugia has told Lovin Malta it was “clear there could possibly have been some who had a clear interest to shift their blame by pointing fingers” at her, following quotes that an industry source was “surprised” that no one had killed the suspended Fisheries Director General
“I have already expressed my concern and questioned whether the attitude in my regard from some quarters was intended to stop me from continuing my work including stricter enforcement,” Fenech Farrugia said.
Fenech Farrugia is currently facing allegations that she would obtain payments from Spanish tuna-magnate and Mare Blu Director Jose Fuentes to use her influence.
Categorically denying the allegations levelled against her, Fenech Farrugia reiterated that she held “highest standards of professionalism and fairness, treating all operators equally, and taking all appropriate actions where necessary.”
Fenech Farrugia spoke to the newsroom after a veteran in the fisheries industry was quoted by The Times of Malta as saying that he was “surprised that they did not kill her” after she had begun to clamp down on operators in recent years.
Lovin’ Malta had previously reported how the Fisheries Directorate had reported the Mare Blu tuna farm for illegal practices around 10 months ago.
Sources had also described the current state of the fishing industry as rife with abuse.
“The whole sector needs to be sorted out, but there has never been any will to do so,” sources said.
In fact, two Maltese operators, Malta Fish Farming Ltd. (MFF) and Mare Blu Ltd., have been named as suppliers of tuna illegally caught and fattened in the country to Spain by leaked Spanish Police documents.
It is believed that illegal operators world either pass off their tuna as a cheaper species, forge documentation, or transfer catches between different cages.
MFF ltd., owned by former Elbros owner Saviour Ellul, has “categorically” denied to El Confidencial that the company was “ever involved in the smuggling of illegal fish from Malta to Spain”.
So far, only Fenech Farrugia has bared the consequences, with Ministry suspending her from duties after the Maltese Federation of Aquaculture Producers immediately called for her resignation.
The same vigour has been somewhat absent following the MFF revelations, a Maltese Federation of Aquaculture Producers, with the organisation’s CEO Karl Gouder telling Lovin Malta that “the Federation through its appointed lawyer in Spain is closely following the issue” asking to refer to their previous statement.
On 16 February, Gouder said that he was in Spain to discuss with his lawyers the ongoing court proceedings in relation to the Operation Tarantella.