Subsidies strike on European mega-trawlers

Press release - December 23, 2011
Greenpeace today targeted three of Europe's largest factory fishing vessels that collectively receive €78,000,000 in European subsidies.

The Naeraberg, sailing under a Lithuanian flag, has received €20,000,000 in subsidies. European taxpayers help such ships gain access to developing regions like Africa, exporting massive overfishing to the most vulnerable peoples.

A new report commissioned by Greenpeace shows how the profits these destructive vessels make depend heavily on government support.

Greenpeace Oceans campaigner Femke Nagel said: "It's appalling that our taxes are used to help these floating fish factories plunder the coastal waters of West Africa. Stocks in this poor region are being fished unsustainably, jeopardising the food security of millions of African people. European governments should work together to reign in the EU's bloated fleet, not subsidise the export of overfishing to other regions."

The economic research institute Profundo studied financial flows over the last years from the EU and its member countries to three Dutch companies and their international subsidiaries, represented by the Pelagic Freezer-trawler Association (PFA). They own a fleet of 34 large-scale trawlers, symbolic of the overcapacity of the European fleet. Their huge catches are processed using onboard factories. EU taxpayers' money is used to gain  access rights to the waters of countries like Morocco and Mauritania. In the last five years this indirect support for the PFA, specifically, amounted to €142.7 million.

The report also shows that the PFA fleet received €21 million to build and modernise its ships between 1994 and 2007. In addition to direct financial support, fishing vessels are also exempt from fuel tax, worth an estimated €78 million per year.

Forty years of misguided EU fishing policy and subsidies have resulted in an oversized and destructive fishing fleet. Most of Europe's fish stocks are overfished. Crucially, the EU Common Fisheries Policy is currently under reform.


Notes to journalists
- Information about the PFA. The PFA vessels are owned by Parlevliet & van der Plas, Cornelis Vrolijk/Jaczon, W. van der Zwan & Zn and their international subsidiaries.
They belong to the biggest and most powerful fishing vessels of Europe. Eleven of these ships are amongst the top 17 of the total EU fleet with regard to length, gross tonnage and main power (EU online fleet register). Sixteen of these vessels have also fished in West Africa (Morocco and Mauritania) in the last five years.
- Report of the European Court of Auditors: Have EU measures contributed to adapting the capacity of the fishing fleets to available fishing opportunities, December 2011.

Femke Nagel, Greenpeace Oceans campaigner 00316-21276860
Jaap Oppenhuizen, Press Officer 00316 25031014