The Maltese Federation of Aquaculture Producers’s CEO, Charlon Gouder, no longer acts as policy adviser to the minister responsible for fisheries.

A spokesman for Environment Minister José Herrera said Dr Gouder, a former Labour Party journalist, stopped serving as the minister’s policy consultant soon after he was chosen by the local tuna ranchers to act as their chief lobbyist with the local authorities.

“Dr Gouder’s role as a policy consultant to the minister was terminated on September 9, 2018,” the spokesman said.

It could not be established whether Dr Herrera had asked his former private secretary to leave the post or whether it was Dr Gouder himself who decided to step down after becoming a lobbyist for the lucrative industry regulated by the Environment Ministry.

Just a few days before his formal resignation, Dr Gouder gave interviews in his new public role as CEO of the Aquaculture producers.

A former journalist on One TV who later graduated as lawyer from the University of Malta, Dr Gouder immediately joined Dr Herrera’s private secretariat upon Labour’s return to power in 2013. First acting as private secretary to the then parliamentary secretary, Dr Gouder resigned his post upon becoming a lawyer and started serving as Dr Herrera’s policy consultant in 2015, when he was put on a €40,000 remuneration package.

Role as a policy consultant to the minister was terminated

Although unknown in the fishing industry, Dr Gouder was chosen to act as their main lobbyist by the tuna industry soon after Dr Herrera was given the fisheries portfolio.

“We are very happy with Dr Gouder because he seems to be very keen on the subject and the promotion of our interests,” a tuna industry insider said.

Asked whether tuna farm operators had chosen the former Labour MEP candidate due to his familiarity with their minister, another insider said: “You know such things never cross the tuna industry’s minds,” he said sarcastically.

Earlier this week, Dr Gouder was very vociferous on the need to keep the tuna industry “clean” following media reports originating from Spain about alleged corruption involving the director general of fisheries, Andreina Fenech Farrugia, and Spanish tuna magnate José Fuentes. She was suspended by Dr Herrera as soon as the allegations were made public.

Read: Fisheries corruption claims ‘just tip of iceberg’

On behalf of the lobby, Dr Gouder applauded Dr Herrera’s quick action and insisted on the need to defend Malta’s industry.

Mare Blu Tuna Farm Ltd, owned by Fuentes and John and Massimo Cappitta, is the only tuna ranch on the island that is not a member of the Malta Federation of Aquaculture Producers. 

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