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New Spanish Law to Fight Pirate Fishing

19 January 2015

SPAIN - Environmental groups have welcomed a new Spanish law which will fight pirate fishing through imposing stronger penalties on Spanish citizens involved in pirate fishing anywhere in the world.

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts and WWF applaud Spain’s new fisheries law and call on the rest of Member States to approve similar laws in order to effectively fight illegal fishing globally.

The new Spanish fisheries law 33/2014 is the translation into Spanish legislation of the EU’s illegal, unreported and unregulated(IUU) fishing regulation, which requires all EU member States to take action against citizens and companies found to be involved in any IUU fishing activities anywhere in the world.

“The lack of will by member States to put in place laws that target those getting rich from illegal fishing has been a serious obstacle to the EU’s effectiveness to tackle this problem. The fact that Spain, Europe’s biggest fishing country has decided to take action against international and renowned pirates that have so far operated with impunity is an important signal that we ask other EU countries to follow,” said Maria José Cornax Fisheries Campaign Manager of Oceana.

The recent case of vessels currently being investigated for pirate fishing in the Southern Oceanby New Zealandcould be a timely opportunity to profit from the scope of this new law.

The vessels under investigation are flagged to Equatorial Guinea but are suspected of being linked economically to a Spanish company. At the request of New Zealand, INTERPOL Purple Notices have been issued in order to seek information on the individuals and networks behind these vessels.

In the past, two of these vessels have been linked to Spanish-based syndicate Vidal Armadores S.A, a family-controlled company in northwestern Spain that is allegedly linked to more than 40 cases of alleged illegal fishing.Measures within the new law will provide Spanish authorities with the opportunity to take action against this company if links can be proved.

The new law puts in place measures enabling the Spanish government to act against Spanish citizens benefiting economically from operating illegally. For example, Spanish nationals or companies benefiting from illegal operations of fishing vessels under any flag, including flags of convenience, and owned or operated by “shell” companies in tax havens.

“The introduction of this law reinforces Spain’s commitment to fight illegal fishing and those citizens benefiting from it. All EU member States should follow Spain’s lead and effectively implement this key element of the EU IUU Regulation,” added Steve Trent, Executive Director of EJF.

TheFishSite News Desk

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