Many of the fisheries subsidies handed out by the governments of Galicia and Spain end up in companies involved in illegal or rogue fishing.
The detention by Norwegian patrols of two vessels flying Spanish flags, apprehended while catching Greenland halibut, has once again highlighted the wide-ranging practice of rogue fishing by companies that have received subsidies from Galician and Spanish authorities.
One of the detained vessels, the Monte Meixueiro, belongs to the Vigo-based company Valiela, S.A., which has received more than 15 million euros in subsidies, grants and special loans from the Galician government.
The Monte Meixueiro, which cost 9 million euros, was launched this year and this was its first fishing season. It measures 62 metres long and has a freezer capacity of 45 tonnes of fish a day. Thanks to these subsidies, the company has also built a second trawler of around 40 metres this year.
The second vessel detained is the Garoya Segundo, a 16-year-old trawler belonging to the company Oyalves, S.L. In recent years, this company has held licences to fish Greenland halibut, redfish, cod and shrimp in the North East and North West Atlantic.
In the year 2000, through a mixed company, this company operated the fishing vessel Cap George, which has changed its flag and name five times. Today it is known as the Ross and has one of the longest track records of fisheries offences, and still has connections with Galician companies such as the Grupo Oya, which is also the owner of the Lithuanian-flagged fishing vessel Lootus II, whose representatives generally attend the international meetings of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) as part of the official Spanish delegation.
But these are not the only examples of how public funds are ending up in illegal fishing, or of how Galician and Spanish administrations are conniving with these pirate enterprises. Last month, the US authorities ordered the search and capture of a Galician entrepreneur accused of rogue fishing, Antonio Vidal. The owner of more than a dozen fishing companies, he has received more than 1.7 million euros in subsidies from the Spanish government for the construction of new vessels and to develop experimental fisheries, despite the fact that many of these boats head several institutions’ blacklists of vessels involved in rogue fishing.
“It is shameful that Spanish administrations, instead of alienating and pursuing the perpetrators, are facilitating their activities and constantly making it worth their while. If Spain doesn’t want the bad reputation of these vessels to infect the whole fleet, it needs to act urgently and categorically. For example, by preventing these companies from getting access to subsidies and grants and being allowed to participate in fishing quotas”, stated Xavier Pastor, the director of Oceana in Europe.