16th March 2015: Spain tackles IUU fishing

The Spanish government is launching an investigation into several companies for alleged links to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing under its new fisheries law.

This is the first time that Spain has enforced its new fisheries law, which came into effect earlier this year and allows Spanish authorities to sanction nationals guilty of involvement in IUU fishing. The law is the Spanish incorporation of the EU’s IUU regulation. If the investigation finds links to IUU fishing, including financial connections, it could lead to the imposition of significant fines on Spanish companies and citizens involved.

“Any legislation is only as strong as the will to enforce it. By initiating these proceedings, the Spanish Government is demonstrating the strength and potential of EU legislation designed to combat the scourge of illegal fishing,” said Anthony Long, director, Ending Illegal Fishing Project, Pew.

“Wherever in the world they are, the perpetrators of illegal fishing are no longer out of reach or out of sight – this legislation, combined with better tracking technology, ensures that,” he added.

The operation has included the inspection of companies based in Coruña (Galicia) for their alleged links with pirate fishing vessels active in Antarctic waters in the CCAMLR area. In January, New Zealand authorities found vessels illegally fishing Patagonian toothfish in the Southern Ocean, suspected to be linked to Spanish companies.

EJF, Oceana, Pew and WWF – who have formed a coalition to support the fight against IUU fishing in Europe – welcome this decision by Spain, saying it represents an important step towards the eradication of this global threat.

-taken from Worldfishing.net