4th Feb 2023

EU cash used for illegal fishing, report says

Fishermen are continuing to use large scale drift nets in the Mediterranean despite an EU ban on the practice, while an environmental group claims to have proof that the fishermen are spending EU anti-drift net funds on new drift nets, or simply to fill their own pockets.

In a report sent to EU fishery ministers ahead of the fisheries council on Monday, maritime protection group Oceana accuses the EU of wasting tens of millions of euros on nothing.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The group has collected evidence that some of the fishermen take EU buy-out money to buy bigger and more damaging nets.

In 1998, following a decision to ban large scale drift nets, the EU directed fishery fund money to fishermen for the dismantling of their business or for replacing the forbidden nets with new ones.

Italy has reportedly spent €200 million euro, out of which 75 percent came from the EU, in converting its fishing fleet.

During two days only, Oceana's patrol boat photographed 37 boats using the forbidden nets on the coastline outside Sardinia.

"Some fishermen were using the same nets illegally; others used the same nets openly calling them something else. Others used new, but still as illegal, nets. All of the ships had received fund money to quit using drift nets", says Ricardo Aguilar spokesperson of Oceana.

Various other environmental groups have repeatedly accused the EU of not following up properly on how member states follow the drift net regulations.

"EU member states violating the ban should be prosecuted", Swiss-based WWF-International said last year after reports that drift nets were killing tens of thousands of dolphins, sharks, turtles and other vulnerable species around the Mediterranean Sea.

Fisheries Commissioner Borg, said in 2003 that "based on the inspectors’ observations and following contacts with the competent Italian authorities, the commission considered that Italy was not controlling and inspecting satisfactorily the community legislation as regards driftnets".

Ricardo Aguilar from Oceana, is hoping that Monday's council will result in a firm definition of drift net.

Should member states fail to submit to the regulations, Oceana is willing to appeal to the European courts, or to the UN.

In 1998, the EU forbad the use of large scale drift nets, complying with a UN moratorium on large-scale drift nets put in place in 1992.

Drift nets are used in a wide range of fisheries, usually deployed at or near the sea surface. Traditionally they were short, small-meshed nets but today drift nets can reach up to 60km in length.

Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by another 0.5 percent to a 14-year high, and expects to hike rates by another half percent in March. But what does that mean for the green transition?


MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils

European Works Councils can play a key role for workers and their unions to bargain effectively — but what are they, why have they been neutered, and why is big business objecting to greater powers?

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us