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EU Subsidies To Criminal Fish Fleets

Here’s an issue on which Via Meadia and Greenpeace can agree: government subsidies to scofflaw fishing companies who routinely and flagrantly violate the law. As the Independent reports:

In one case alone, European Commission (EC) officials are investigating subsidy payments to a group of companies affiliated to the Vidal family, from Galicia, which are thought to have received more than €15m in subsidies between 2002 and 2009, part of which come from the European Fisheries Fund (EEF), to which the UK contributes.

Companies connected to the family continue to receive subsidies despite alleged links to repeated incidents of illegal fishing. The report says at least seven of the vessels have been convicted for offences, including fishing without a licence, falsifying information and obstructing inspections.

Wasteful and unsustainable fishing is a disaster for humans and the environment, and Greenpeace is right to attack such actions, especially when they are funded by taxpayers.

Ariana Densham, a Greenpeace oceans campaigner, who led the nine-month report, described the system as “broken”. “According to some estimates, up to 49 per cent of the global catch is illegal, unreported and unregulated, and this is one of the main reasons why our fisheries are in such rapid decline.”

“The fact that in Europe this theft of fish is being subsidised by taxpayers’ money, that we’re paying pirates to steal our fish, destroy one of our oldest industries and devastate the marine environment, shows just how corrupted the CFP [Common Fisheries Policy] is,” she said.

Greenpeace has this one dead to rights.  It’s time for governments to work out an international fishing policy that works, and to enforce that policy vigorously.  If Greenpeace activists absolutely must buzz dangerously around ocean going vessels in sometimes rough seas, Via Meadia would like to see them shift from the whalers to the quota busters.  Whales are cute and VM doesn’t want to see them hurt in any way, but the health of the global fishery is serious business and groups like Greenpeace would do a great service by concentrating their firepower where its needed most.

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  • Raymond R

    Treat them like pirates – hang them from the highest yardarm. Oh, we don’t do that anymore – catch and release?

  • Jim.

    So what’s the enforcement / jurisdiction structure here? Are navies involved? Coast Guards?

    Greenpeace is providing vigilante services here — who are the uniformed government types who are actually charged with enforcing these treaties / laws, and can we bump this up a bit on their priority list?

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