Commission fisheries fund plan continues subsidy binge

Press release - December 2, 2011
Brussels - A new plan unveiled today by the European Commission to review fisheries subsidies has failed to deliver a vital shift to support low-impact fishermen, said Greenpeace. Earlier drafts of the plan had promised a new approach that could have ended decades of easy handouts for large industrial operators, including those guilty of illegal or destructive fishing. But the proposal published today has lost much of its emphasis supporting a transition towards sustainable fishing and little funding has been set aside for enforcement of EU fishing rules and scientific assessments, warned Greenpeace.

21 November 2011

Greenpeace activists from the Arctic Sunrise attach floating devices to the cables of the Spanish fishing trawler Muxia, forcing her to haul her nets empty. The nets were trawling the sea 450 metres beneath the surface, 170 km off the west coast of Ireland in the north east Atlantic. Deep-sea bottom trawling targets already overexploited fish stocks and is one of the most destructive and unsustainable fishing practices. Under the Commission plan released today, destructive trawlers like the Muxia could continue plundering the oceans thanks to public subsidies.


Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said: “Many European governments have been using subsidies to fund a bloated and destructive fleet. This plan will not put an end to these practices. Taxpayers’ money should not be used to subsidise the private profits of an industry that is fishing itself out of business. The European Parliament and those countries who want to end overfishing should ensure that fishermen who plunder recklessly are penalised and only those who fish sustainably are rewarded.”

For forty years, misguided EU subsidies have favoured destructive industrial fishing, rewarding those targeting desperately overexploited stocks. Between 2004 and 2010, Denmark gave 57% of available subsidies to only 20 wealthy industrial fishermen [1], while in Spain most of the money has gone to industrial fishing and even convicted criminals [2]. These policies have contributed to three out of four fish stocks being overfished. In October, a Greenpeace investigation exposed a ring of Spanish fishing barons receiving at least €16 million in taxpayers’ money despite convictions in several countries for illegal and destructive fishing [3].

The review of funding rules is part of a wider once-in-a-decade overhaul of EU fisheries policy. The European Parliament and European governments are expected to vote on the Commission proposals in the second half of 2012 and to finalise the new laws during 2013.

A joint report by green groups on the EU fisheries subsidies report can be found at:

Notes to editors:


[2] Espana report - The Destructive Practices of Spain's Fishing Armada:

[3] Ocean Inquirer – exposing sea crimes:


Saskia Richartz – Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director: +32 (0)95 290028,

Mark Breddy – Greenpeace EU communications manager: +32 (0)496 156229,

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs:

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.