Luzzu’s real-life fisher Jesmark Scicluna petitions candidate for higher tuna quota

Labour candidate Alicia Bugeja Said tells Luzzu actor Jesmark Scicluna that State will assist young fishers to buy their first vessel 

Luzzu star Jesmark Scicluna
Luzzu star Jesmark Scicluna

The real-life fisher who starred in the title role of Ramin Bahrani-produced movie Luzzu, is hoping Maltese fishers can get a new lease of life with higher quotas for their catch.

In a question-and-answer session with Labour Party candidate Alicia Bugeja Said, the Sundance prize-winning actor Jesmark Scicluna rose to ask what can be done to help young fishers to enter the industry.

Scicluna told Bugeja Said, a former director-general of Malta’s fisheries authority, that his daughter was showing an interest in becoming a fisher herself.

“We know the tuna industry is important for the Maltese and also one of the most profitable for fishers, due to the prices the American and Japanese markets fetch for this quarry,” Bugeja Said replied. “I will keep insisting that at an EU level, Malta’s quota is increased so that it can be shared between small fishers. This sector needs to be able to invest and grow, and it needs new blood.”

Bugeja Said said young fishers needed finance from the State to invest in their seacraft. She cited the example of the Alex Camilleri-directed movie Luzzu, produced by Rebecca Anastasi and Oliver Mallia, in which lead actor Jesmark is forced to scrap his father’s traditional luzzu in return for a lump sum from EU funds, so that he can earn a living for his family.

“I speak to youths like Jesmark, and I know that your predecessors inherited their vessels, but young fishers need to take out loans, and we know the choice is between that or a home loan for your family,” Bugeja Said said.

“Labour will be pledging financial aid for young fishers to have their first vessel – it is a €28 million fund from the EU to help fishers, as well as to educate people about fish. Jesmark’s role in Luzzu indeed reflects the realities of Maltese fishers, and it means we must turn that into policies that reflect fisher’s present and future needs.”