Spain’s fishing industry is corrupt and continues to be subsidised by massive EU handouts, two new reports allege.
The investigations, one from Greenpeace and the other by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, claim Spanish fishermen have received huge subsidies from from Brussels over the last decade. One of the reports estimated a whopping eight billion euros.
Spain is also accused of overlooking illegal and unregulated fishing. Many MEP’s are demanding tough action. Green party MEP Isabella Lönvin said:
“We are in a deep economic crisis now in Europe, there is no way you can justify that tax payers money is used for something that really goes contrary to the common good”.
But the one fishing lobby insists the reports claims are false, saying Spain’s fishing industry has almost been halved since joining the EU.
President Europêche Javier Garat said: ‘‘This aid is mainly intended for boat dismantling. They are lying to us with these figures. Since 1986, when Spain entered the European Community the number of boats has been cut from 21,000 to less than the 11,000 today. More or less around 47 percent. Of course, that has also reduced the number of people employed in the fishing sector by 50 percent.’‘
The EU, which is pushing for reform, has said the latest accusations will be investigated.
Spokesman for the Commission Oliver Drews said: ‘‘We’re simply overfishing. There are too many boats and not enough fish. It cannot continue both for consumers or the environment, and eventually for fishermen as well. We have to transform this sector so it is profitable in the future. Something which works and is sustainable.’‘
The reports also claimed many Spanish fishmen found guilty of fraud and other illegal practices in the past had continued to receive subsidies.
Spain has Europe’s biggest fishing fleet and is estimated to receive more than a quarter of all EU subsidies.