The Malta Independent 22 September 2021, Wednesday

‘It’s your fault!’: Trawler allegedly rams fishing boat, leaving two in the sea

Tuesday, 3 August 2021, 17:08 Last update: about 3 months ago

A fishing trawler allegedly rammed a small fishing boat, leaving its two occupants in the sea, after it deemed the vessel to be in its way.

Taking to social media, one of the two who ended up in the sea recounted how his first recreational fishing trip on the 16-foot boat had come to a watery end as a result of the actions of the trawler, which he said is owned by Azzopardi Fisheries.

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Aleandro Spiteri Monsigneur recounted how he and his friend has set off roughly 10 kilometres off the St. Paul’s Bay coast, close to fish farms run by Azzopardi Fisheries.

“After attempting to settle at a spot to start our easy-going fishing, a trawler approached us, asking us to relocate since the trawler wanted to work close by. To this we showed no objection and relocated to another area roughly 30 metres away from the fish farms where around 25 other small fishing boats similar to ours were working, many of which were evidently fishermen by profession”, he said.

From there, he said, they spotted a bigger trawler heading their way from roughly 500 metres away – something which they did not think much of, especially because they assumed that the trawler would give them some sort of signal if it wanted them to move.

“But the trawler didn’t seem to change direction. Realising what was about to happen, it was too late to untie the ropes and move out of the way. The trawler headed straight onto us, colliding with us and causing the boat to capsize and all of our belongings (phones, wallets, keys, camera etc.) to drown”, he said.

“Throwing us into the sea, the captain’s (Jordan Cutajar) reaction was far from apologetic: “Tort tagħkom”, he said, “terġgħux tiġu hawn!”, before heading straight on and continuing whatever he was planning to do, as if nothing had happened. The other 25 boats looked at us in dismay, no one knowing what to do”, he added.

He said that it later turned out that fishing within a certain radius of private fish farms is not allowed, but he noted this is a rule which very few Maltese fishermen adhere to due to the severely depleted fish populations, which automatically make fish farm areas a hotspot for fishing due to the high concentrations of nutrients available to external fish.

“To cut a much longer story short, we suffered no major injuries, and the boat got turned back over by another trawler whose crew assisted us in every way possible and returned us safely to land. We lost all of our belongings and the boat has suffered considerable damages”, Spiteri Monsigneur said.

He said that an Azzopardi Fisheries “bully” had “decided to run over two young guys who were on what was meant to be a fun, recreational fishing trip, probably because of our ‘wrongful’ position amongst 25 other ‘wrongful’ boats, potentially killing us had one of us been unable to swim or had the trawler been just a few inches more to the right.”

This newsroom has sent questions on the alleged incident to Azzopardi Fisheries.

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