The Spanish Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries has granted him subsidies to the value of 1,700,000 euros despite his known connections with pirate fishing, This could result in a 20 year prison sentence.
The Galician businessman, Antonio Vidal, has been indicted by the US Administration for attempting to fraudulently enter into that country’s market some 25,000 kilos of fish protected by international conventions, in this case Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) and Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni). (http://www.oceana.org/fileadmin/oceana/uploads/europe/reports/cp_usdep_antonio_vidal.pdf)
Both Antonio Vidal and one of his companies, Fadilur S.A., have been accused by the U.S. Department of Justice and face various charges that could lead to a prison sentence of 20 years and fines of up to 500,000 dollars. These accusations include the falsification of documentation, fraudulent importation and conspiracy to sell illegal fish, as well as the obstruction of justice. The price that this illegally-caught fish could have obtained on the North American market is more than 300,000 dollars.
Antonio Vidal has been accused of “pirate fishing” on numerous occasions. Many of his vessels and companies are facing legal action for illegal fishing in countries such as Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The boats managed by this ship-owner from Ribeira are in the top positions on the blacklists of many international organisations. Fishing boats such as the “Apache”, the “Camouco” and the “Viarsa 1” have already been detained and charged with illegal fishing.
Despite Spanish and European legislation and constant calls from the United Nations to put an end to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, this entrepreneur has always used Spain as his “bolt-hole”.
Oceana has proven that in 2005 Antonio Vidal’s company, Vidal Armadores S.A. (VIARSA), received at least two subsidies from the Secretary General of Maritime Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The first, 377,952 euros, was destined for building new fishing vessels. The second, 1,310,562 euros, was for a pilot experimental fisheries scheme. This subsidy is the largest of those awarded by the Secretary General of Fisheries for this purpose (BOE No. 90. Friday 15 April 2005. Pages 13095 and 13098).
A legal organisation of Atlantic toothfish fishermen known as COLTO has been denouncing the activities of what it calls “The Galician Mafia” for years. A conglomerate of more than a dozen enterprises and almost thirty fishing vessels make up the “pirate” empire of Antonio Vidal.
Oceana has already denounced the activities of vessels sailing under flags of convenience in illegal fisheries to the United Nations and the OECD, and has provided proof that ports in Galicia and the Canary Islands are used for unloading and taking on supplies. Once again, vessels managed by companies connected to Antonio Vidal were involved. (Halting IUU fishing: enforcing international fisheries agreements)
In April last year, Oceana published a press release entitled “Oceana presents the evidence of Spanish involvement in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing”, which contained a list of vessels flying flags of convenience or mentioned on the “blacklists” drawn up by international fishing organisations which had visited the ports of Tenerife and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands and Marín and Vigo in Galicia:
“It is real dishonour for Spain and Galicia that their territory is being used to harbour individuals and companies involved in pirate fishing, but the support they receive from the public administrations, using the taxes of European citizens, can only be described as scandalous. The Secretary General of Fisheries should cut off relations and stop subsidising known offenders”, states Xavier Pastor, Director for Oceana in Europe.