The Price of Plunder

How European taxpayers are subsidising factory trawlers to strip fish from West Africa’s waters

Publication - February 27, 2012
The fundamental problem facing Europe’s fishing industry is overcapacity: its fleet is catching far more than current fish stocks can bear. Under the broken governance of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Europe’s waters have been overfished and its governments have done little to curb the destructive power of their bloated fleets.

As the CFP undergoes crucial reform, Greenpeace is publishing the Ocean Inquirer, revealing the misguided management of Europe’s fisheries, funded by EU taxpayers under the CFP. Previous issues of the Inquirer exposed the fishy business of how Spain funds the illegal activities of a prominent part of its industrial fishing fleet, and how Spain and France have channeled EU subsidies to support highly destructive deep sea bottom trawling.

In this edition, we reveal how the EU and EU member states are seeking to evade the issue of European overfishing by shipping the problem overseas. We show how they are using taxpayers’ money to subsidise powerful European industrial vessels to expand into the fishing grounds off West Africa and in the Pacific, encouraging the plunder of the waters of some of the world’s poorest countries. To illustrate the damaging effects on the regions’ fish stocks and coastal communities, we focus on one industrial fleet, sailing under the banner of the Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA), which consists of 34 factory trawlers that are among the biggest and most powerful in the world.

But it’s not too late to turn the tide. The EU can create sustainable and equitable fisheries if it seizes this once in-a-decade opportunity to radically reform the CFP. Greenpeace calls on EU governments and the European Parliament to show leadership by preventing the European fleet from destroying our common oceans and the communities who rely on them.

20120227 PFA inquirer ENG