Spain Says ‘Enough’ to Fish Crimes - Oceana USA
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June 24, 2015

Spain Says ‘Enough’ to Fish Crimes

BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant, Washington, DC

Last week, the Spanish government issued record-breaking fines totaling as much as 11 million Euros to Spanish nationals involved in illegal fishing. Illegal fishing, also known as ‘pirate fishing,’ is a significant problem that contributes to global overfishing and accounts for up to one-third of the world’s wild caught seafood, resulting in a loss of $10 to $23 billion annually.  

The fines issued by the Spanish government are a result of a 2010 regulation in the European Union that allows for tough penalties for not only the fishermen involved in illegal fishing, but the companies and individuals that profit from these fish crimes. Illegal fishing is a serious organized crime that not only hurts the oceans and honest fishermen, but has also been known to involve severe human rights violations such as slave labor, human trafficking and labor abuse. Strong penalties and enforcement will help to deter future pirate fishing around the world. Learn more at

Oceana continues to work around the globe to fight pirate fishing, including our efforts in the United States. A 2014 report from Marine Policy found that between 20-32 percent of wild-caught seafood imports into the U.S. are illegal, the second largest market for seafood behind the European Union. Oceana applauds Spain’s efforts and calls on other countries, including the U.S., to take a firm stance on the battle against illegal fishing. President Obama established a task force in 2014 to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) and seafood fraud. The U.S. government is now in the middle of implementing the task force’s recommendations. As the U.S. moves forward, it should look to the EU’s successes in developing real deterrents and penalties for those who ignore fisheries and ocean laws.

Oceana senior campaign director Beth Lowell had this to say about the news:

“Until now, modern-day pirates have exploited the lack of regulation and weak enforcement of fisheries laws on the high seas and in many countries around the world. We applaud the Spanish government’s efforts to help stamp out illegal fishing. Spain is the first country to use a provision in the anti-IUU rules adopted by the EU, which allows the use of real penalties for fish crimes that will help deter future pirate fishing around the world. We call on the United States to follow Spain’s leadership and help to keep illegal fish out of the U.S. market. Illegal fishing not only cheats seafood consumers, but it also hurts honest fishermen and seafood businesses that play by the rules. We must break the unintended link between U.S. dollars and pirate fishing and provide long-lasting protections for consumers. The U.S. government must continue its work to implement the recommendations of President Obama’s task force on combating illegal fishing and seafood fraud to ensure that all seafood sold in the U.S. is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled.”