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.
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.
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 as it represents an important step towards the eradication of this global threat.
María José Cornax, Fisheries Campaign Manager for Oceana Europe, commented: “Our Coalition congratulates the steps taken by the Spanish Government to put a definitive end to the historical involvement of some Spanish operators in IUU fishing around the globe. European Union member states are demonstrating that their commitment to eradicating illegal fishing is not limited to the EU market, and that no EU citizen should benefit from these operations, wherever in the world they happen.”
Anthony Long, Director of the Ending Illegal Fishing Project, Pew, also commented: "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. 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."