Vigo, Spain, 5 May 2010 - As EU Fisheries Ministers begin debating the Common Fisheries Policy1 (CFP) reform in Spain, Greenpeace flew airborne banners and displayed balloon-bound banners demanding “Spain: Stop Overfishing” and “EU: Save Our Seas.” Spain, which holds the European Union presidency, is hosting the fisheries meeting in Vigo. Greenpeace is singling out Spain as the worst overfishing nation of all EU member states.
Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Farah Obaidullah said: “Meaningful reform must begin here in Vigo, home to the EU’s richest, most destructive and notorious fishing fleet. Greenpeace is calling on Spain to stop overfishing today if we are to protect fish stocks for tomorrow.”
On Monday, Greenpeace released a detailed exposé of how Spain’s destructive fishing armada, the largest fleet in the EU, systematically plunders the world’s oceans using taxpayer’s money2. Spain receives the bulk of EU fisheries subsidies, encourages excessive and destructive fishing methods and supports illegal fishing by funding “pirate” fishing operations and fails to prosecute companies that do not comply with fishing laws and regulations.
Vigo and Galicia are the top port fishing and region in Spain, which receive the bulk of subsidies from the Spanish government.3 EU subsidies have encouraged overfishing and fuelled overcapacity of its fleets.
“Ministers gathered here must not add insult to the injuries of overfishing and ocean destruction by continuing to force European taxpayers to subsidise Spain’s devastating fishing armada,” continued Obaidullah.
In the current CFP reform process, Greenpeace is calling on Spain and other EU member states to commit to cut their excessive fishing fleet capacity, increase the area that is protected by marine reserves to 40% and end destructive and wasteful fishing practices. The CFP is reviewed and reformed by the EU every ten years.
Globally, between 75% and 80% of fish stocks are depleted or exploited, and the situation in Europe is even worse. By the European Commission’s own admission, “Overfishing is so serious that more fish would be caught if there was less fishing.”4 The EU’s best chance to reverse the failures of previous CFP reform processes is to allow our oceans and fish stocks to recover. This can happen through substantial reductions in fishing fleet reduction targets, expanding marine reserve areas to cover 40% of our oceans and basing the reformed CFP on science and transparency.
Steve Smith - Greenpeace International Communications +31 64 378 7359 (mobile)
Farah Obaidullah - Greenpeace International oceans campaigner +31 64 617 7538 (mobile)
Saskia Richartz - EU Oceans Policy Director +32 49 529 0028 (mobile)
For photos, contact: John Novis, Greenpeace International photo desk, +44 7801 615 889