Oceana, opposes fishing subsidies for Pescanova and other Spanish fishiing giants

Pescanova is planning an aquaculture plant in Cabo Touriñán, a protected Natura 2000 area in Spain. Oceana is campaigning against the authorisation of this project and asks the European Commission to not allow fishing giants access to subsidies

Press Release Date: April 22, 2010

Location: Madrid


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

The international marine conservation organization Oceana opposes fishing subsidies for fish processing and aquaculture plants for large fishing companies. Earlier this week, the large Galician fishing companies, among them Pescanova, announced their formation of the so called “G-10”, a lobby group created to pressure the European Commission for access to 344 million Euro fishing subsidies, which have been reserved for small and medium sized fishing companies with less than 750 employees or less than 200 million Euro turnover, according to a Galician newspaper article. Other members of the G-10 lobby group include the Spanish fish processors Calvo, Jealsa, Frinsa, Isabel, Sálica, the aquaculture company Stolt Sea Farm, the fishmeal producer Ártabra and the fishing companies Freiremar and Iberconsa.

One of Pescanova’s planned investments is a large aquaculture plant in Cape Touriñán, Galicia, a site that is part of the European network of Natura 2000 areas. Those areas are protected under the EU habitats directive in order to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. Oceana is campaigning actively against this plant, which has already been green-lighted by the Xunta de Galicia.

Oceana Europe director Xavier Pastor clarifies: “The construction plans for a huge aquaculture plant in a European Natura 2000 area are outraging in itself, and it is even more absurd to fight for European Union subsidies for a project that shall be carried out in an area with sensitive ecosystems that are protected under European Union environmental legislation on ecologically important areas. We hope these efforts will soon be stopped.”

Aquaculture produces an important degradation of the environment when it is carried out in areas with sensitive ecosystems and high ecological value. The large scale industrial occupation, including the construction of roads and increased traffic harm sensitive coastal areas with important protected habitats and species. Other risk factors for the environment include the discharge of nutrients to the sea and the high concentration of organic materials and chemical products. 

 Oceana strongly opposes fishing subsidiesand is asking the European Commission to not grant subsidies for fish processing, aquaculture plants and fishmeal production to these fishing giants. In general, subsidies to fishing companies support the construction of new fishing vessels and increases in fishing capacity and fishing efficiency. The consequence is an increase of fishing pressurein overfished European waters and world oceans. As fishing subsidies’ harmful effect on the fish stocks and the oceans ecosystems has been recognized worldwide, fishing countries are currently negotiating to prohibit fishing subsidies via the World Trade Organisation. 

 “It is absurd that these large and stock exchange-listed companies like Pescanova are asking for subsidies, especially for aquaculture plants that clearly harm the coastal environment. The fishing companies of the so called “G 10” lobby group operate most of their vessels under third country flags and often fish in developing countries like Namibia and Mozambique, which don’t have fisheries assessments, fisheries management and controls as required in Europe”, explains Oceana economist Anne Schroeer. When the majority of their vessels don’t have to comply with the rules of the European Union Common Fisheries Policy and they don’t respect ecologically important Natura 2000 areas, that are protected under the European Union habitats directive, obviously they should not be financed by Europe’s taxpayers”, she concludes.