Oceana calls on the Spanish Government to take unequivocal action against ship-owners involved in illegal fishing

The marine protection organisation appeals to the fishing sector to isolate and expel those who bring their activities into disrepute.

Press Release Date: August 19, 2013

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

In view of the alarming increase in detentions of Spanish fishing vessels by the coastguards of a variety of countries due to their illegal fishing activities – on this particular occasion the Galician trawler “Cantábrico III” in Irish waters – the marine protection organisation Oceana is calling upon the Spanish government to demonstrate “zero tolerance” against offenders and to bring the full weight of the law to bear on ship-owners and skippers who violate national and international fishing legislation.

“The Secretary General of Maritime Fisheries should exercise its full authority by imposing the withdrawal of licences, the abolition of subsidies and significant fines on ship-owners who are not only exhausting fishing grounds and destroying marine ecosystems but are also bringing the entire fishing sector of this country into disrepute,” said Xavier Pastor, the fisheries biologist who heads up the European division of the Oceana organisation, dedicated to protecting the seas. “Meanwhile, representatives of the Spanish fishing industry and fishermen’s trade unions should alienate the individuals who are involved in these activities, which are detrimental to honest professionals”.

According to Oceana, the detention of these fishing vessels is just the tip of the iceberg. It is an example of the activities of a fleet that is only intercepted and detained on the occasions when it is caught in the act.

In a period of just a few weeks four Galician trawlers have been arrested by the law enforcement vessels of Norway and Ireland when they were carrying out illegal fishing activities in the Svalbard area and in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone.

On November 20, the “Garoya Segundo” and the “Monte Meiuxeiro” were arrested by the Norwegian authorities and taken to the harbours of Tromso and Longyearbyen

Ten days later the “Santa Maria de Lourdes” was intercepted by Irish patrol boats while fishing illegally in Irish waters.

“The Irish authorities must make sure that no ilegal fishing activity takes place in our waters, neither by foreign nor Irish fishing boats. The protection and recovery of the Eastern Atlantic  fish stocks are  essential for the future of a healthy fishing sector in our country”, said Grace O’Sullivan, Oceana spokesperson in Ireland.

Other Spanish fishing vessels, as the Galaecia, the Viarsa and the Hammer, all of them belonging to the Spanish ship-owner Antonio Vidal, have been recently involved in rogue (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated, IUU) fishing in the Southern Ocean, and have been prosecuted by the governments of Australia and USA. Both Antonio Vidal and Grupo Oya, the latter owners of the boats arrested early this month by the Norwegian coastguard, have received up to 17 million euros in EU fishing subsidies distributed by the Spanish authorities.

Finally, Oceana highlights the case of Spanish ports, such as Las Palmas, that give shelter to pirate fishing vessels from all over the world, providing them with reprovisioning, maintenance, repair and crew changeover facilities.