This One Time in Malta… We had tuna

[I apologize to any reader that disagrees with this following post. We all agree that the harvest of such a creature is sad and not sustainable… but we were on board to take samples of the fish for a study. Personnel from the Malta and the EU Environmental fishery inspection agency were on board documenting the entire process. View discretion is advised.]

Now, I don’t just mean we ate tuna… we watched the Japanese fisherman harvest the tuna, we then cooked the tuna and then ate the tuna, eventually.

Our day started at 6 am, bright and early. We drove to Valletta harbour from Mosta to wait for the diving boat to pick us up. We waited for an hour on the waterfront and watched a local fisherman set up his pole for a day of fishing. Once on the boat, it took us approximately 45 minutes to arrive at the Japanese boat. During this time, the divers were sharpening their knifes and loading their guns, while having their pre-game coffee and a cigarette. When we arrived at the boat, all health and safety rules went out the window. Japanese men ushered us into a wobbly plastic bucket and transported us onto the main boat. The diving boat then continued to the pen to harvest the first batch of tuna.

While waiting, we ate Japanese biscuits (which were actually made in Indonesia) and put on our wellies, overalls and rubber gloves. Once the boat arrived, I could not believe what I saw. If you’ve seen a tuna fish before, you know what I mean… but it is a sight that is indescribable. These fish are absolutely massive and so beautiful. We were standing a few meters from where the tuna were lifted onto the boat… and as I went to put my sunglasses away, I was advised to keep them on, for protection….

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As the tuna was hoisted up to the Japanese boat, it was weighed, measured and sexed, and then things got messy really fast (average weight of 300 kg and around 2.5 metres long). I won’t go into detail about the process, but after the harvest was over, my friend picked a piece of bone out of my ear (pretty gross.. I know). Half way through the harvest, the crane on the larger boat broke down… so they started using the crane on the smaller boat to transfer the 300 kg tuna… while at sea. Needless to say, we saw our lives flash before our eyes as massive tuna swung about in front of us, before slapping down onto the landing.

Unusual gravestone title #238: Loving person, unfortunate death by tuna.

 

After it was finished, approximately 10 men emerged from the freezer wearing snowsuits that even Canada Goose doesn’t manufacture. The peaks of their toques were covered in ice, eyelashes were white and their boots were frosted. Meanwhile, everyone else was sweating literally everywhere (fyi: overalls are not breathable, nor fashionable). Once the area was cleaned up, we took another joy ride in the plastic bucket, onto the diving boat, with about 5lbs of tuna for dinner.

That evening, after a scolding shower, we managed to not smell like tuna and joined at our house for a tuna dinner. We chopped the tuna into steaks, roasted potatoes and onions, sauteed green beans, made a light salad and uncorked some Maltese wine. We were quite impressed with ourselves!

We have plenty of tuna in the freezer now, ready for another feast…

It was a great day on the water and in the kitchen, and the Maltese wine wasn’t too bad either… and we managed to collect plenty of samples as well for the study. Until next time, ciao ciao! xx

Rachel

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