EU Court of Justice has ruled against Italy for continued use of driftnets

Oceana documented 92 Italian vessels in 2008 with driftnets on board, 80% of which had already been identified in previous years

Press Release Date: April 22, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana and MarViva welcome today’s judgment by the EU Court of Justice which has found Italy in breach of EU law for continuing to use driftnets, a fishing gear banned since 2002. Driftnets are a serious threat to the conservation of endangered species in the Mediterranean.

This case was finally taken to the Court in August 2008, after years of lengthy legal proceedings started by the European Commission against Italy, for, inter alia: insufficient and weak controls on land and too few controls at sea.

According to Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe: “The judgment is an important milestone in the elimination of driftnets from the Mediterranean. At last we may be moving towards the end of this illegal fishing gear, seven years after the EU banned their use. Let’s hope that this ruling finally shifts the direction the Italian Government has taken over the past years and now they will move towards their removal from the fleet”. Likewise, the spokesperson for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs of the European Commission, Nathalie Charbonneau, told Oceana that the European Commission welcomes the judgment of the European Court of Justice”.

Yesterday, Oceana presented in Rome its latest report on the use of driftnets in the Mediterranean, which contains an analysis of the Italian fleet using this gear. During the press conference the marine conservation organisation stressed how the Court of Justice judgment is an essential step to stop the use of driftnets once and for all.

In Italy, more than 120 million Euros of European Community and Italian funds were invested between 1997 and 2002 to reconvert or dismantle a fleet of some 700 vessels. Many of these ship owners pocketed these funds without reconverting their vessels and kept on fishing with illegal driftnets. The Oceana report contains photographs, taken in 2008, of 92 vessels with driftnets on board, of which 80% had already been identified during campaigns in previous years.

 Over several years of campaigning in the Mediterranean, Oceana has documented and reported how driftnets, despite the ban, continue to be used, not only in Italy, but also in other areas of the Mediterranean such as Morocco, Turkey, and until recently, France.


Sentenza Della Corte (in Italian)

Oceana Report: Swordfish and driftnets: the lack of control in Mediterranean fisheries


Oceana has available photo and video images of driftnets