Government and tuna fleet refute accusations of illegal fishing in Somalia


The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA) and Spanish fishing vessel owners’ associations expressed their rejection to the recently released news on the alleged illegal activities of Spanish fishing vessels in the area of Somalia.

This reaction follows the publication of a report by the One Earth Future Foundation, which claims that the Spanish vessels illegally catch more than 16,000 tonnes of fish a year in Somali waters, which makes Spain the third most fishing resource plundering country in the Horn of Africa.

“Spanish ships often operate on the border of the EEZ of Somalia, including 200 nautical miles off the coast, and often cross the limit because there is nobody to control them,” Kaija Hurlburt, one of the authors of the report “Securing Somali Fisheries” explained toEFE agency.

Tuna ship owners were the first to respond to the claims made in the report.

In statements to EFE, the general manager of the Organization of Large Tuna Freezer Ship Owners-Producers (OPAGAC), Julio Moron ensured it is “false” and especially “impossible” for the Spanish fleet to be fishing in exclusive fishing waters of Somalia. This is so not only because it is forbidden by the Spanish Government, but due to the pirate threat.

For its part, the Cooperative of Shipowners of Vigo (ARVI) used the social network Twitter to dismiss the criticism.

In a statement, the Ministry ensures that all Spanish flagged fleet fishing in the high seas, including the tuna fleet, is subject to the highest standards of control and compliance globally. Their fishing activities are conducted under the observance of the rules on conservation and management in force, both at national level and in the European Union (EU) as well as international laws.

Among the control measures, the Ministry states that the Spanish fleet is subject to continuous surveillance of their fishing activity through satellite tracking systems, both location tracking (VMS), as well as activity reporting (ERS Electronic Journal) in compliance with national and EU regulations.

This system provides the position of the Spanish fishing vessel at all times. All this information is available to the European Commission (DG MARE). In addition, the Spanish fishing vessel must have an expressed authorization of the General Secretariat of Fisheries to operate in any fishery ground in the world.

Furthermore, the Government emphasizes that in order to strengthen the fight against illegal fishing, Spain has introduced to its fleet an unprecedented worldwide initiative, which determines the issue of such authorizations as a verification process with the Administration of the third country, in the case of the licenses issued as private ones, outside the EU agreements with third countries.

In addition, MAGRAMA clarifies that, in the case of Somalia, the Spanish fleet has no fishing license to the effect, because since 2007 issuing private licenses in that country has been banned, given the inability of the country to monitor the activity properly and with the necessary guarantees that sustainable fishing activities are being carried out.

Consequently, the General Secretariat of Fisheries has had no record of fishing activity being performed by Spanish vessels in the waters of Somalia in recent years.

Given the above, the General Secretariat of Fisheries (SGP) ensures that the fishing activities of Spanish vessels are fully respectful of the Somali EEZ boundaries so that they are always performed beyond this limit. This is continuously monitored by the Monitoring Centre as it is the case with other coastal states EEZs and in all oceans.


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