Fines levied against France for selling hake smaller than what is authorised add up to more than 100 million Euros
The European Commission has pressed charges against the Spanish government before the European Union Courts of Justice, after seven years of continuously reporting on Spain´s non-compliance of European regulations concerning the catch, landing and sale of fish that do not meet size standards.
In March of 2006, Oceana warned the Spanish government that the fines levied against France could be replicated in Spain if immediate and urgent measures were not established to end the catch and sale of immature fish throughout various fish markets, wholesalers, fishmongers and the restaurant sector.
Much of the blame of these charges can be placed on the capture of immature fish along the Andalusian coasts, although the sale of these fish is widespread throughout Spain.
This year, the Oceana Ranger research vessel analysed the waters and sea floors of the Alboran Sea and the coasts of Andalusia; a multitude of scars left by bottom trawlers were found in protected areas where many immature fish congregate.
Illegal fishing activity in seagrass beds has not only destroyed large expanses of this important ecosystem, but also leads to the capture of the young fish that seek shelter amongst the branches and leaves of these plants.
Despite continuous advertising campaigns on immature fish, the continued practice of non-selective and destructive fishing activities, along with overfishing and fishing in protected areas, and lax legislation and permissive governments, both at sea and on land, lead to a scandalous lack of fisheries control.