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4M Of Fish Seized In Crackdown On Illegal Fishing

Sustainability Politics

EUROPEAN UNION - European authorities have seized 1,100 tonnes of fish landed in Las Palmas, in the biggest EU action yet against the landing of illegally caught fish.

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an NGO, claimed the fish had been caught by illegal pirate fishing off West Africa using child labour. The catches, estimated to be worth more than €4m, were found on three vessels flagged to South Korea, Panama and China.

The catches were to be distributed to fish counters in Spain and the rest of Europe. The seizure of the consignment occurred prior to Spain’s Holy Week, in which fish sales typically double, causing severe shortages in local markets.

The action against the three vessels in Las Palmas follows the introduction in 2010 of an EU regulation which aims at preventing illegally caught fish from entering the EU market.

“Those vessels could be totally frozen out of trade with the EU,” fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki told the Guardian. “Illegal fishing is a nightmare. A lot of countries are losing money from it.”

EJF observed crew as young as 14 onboard another of the vessels, working in dangerous and unhygienic conditions.

“This investigation has exposed the highly organised theft of natural resources from some of the world’s poorest people – communities dependant on fish for food security and employment,” said EJF Executive Director Steve Trent in a statement. “Without flag states better regulating the activities of their vessels and coastal countries taking responsibility for monitoring their waters, this theft will continue”.