GREENPEACE IS exposing today 20 of the most destructive fishing vessels operating under European flags, ownership or management, two months ahead of a European Union (EU) deadline to end overfishing. All 20 vessels have been singled out because of their enormous capacity to catch fish and their impact on overexploited fish stocks, vulnerable marine species and habitats.
The operations of all 20 vessels can be linked back to European countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Only one vessel is flagged outside the EU but operated by a Greek-registered company.
Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace EU oceans policy director said: “The operators of these vessels use tricks – like changing the identity and flag of their vessels or using front companies and tax havens – to increase their access to fishing opportunities or to circumvent rules and regulations. They create comparatively little employment, while putting in jeopardy the health of our seas. EU governments must stop turning a blind eye to overfishing, remove monster boats from industrial fishing fleets and encourage low-impact alternatives.”
By focusing on some of the top contributors to global overfishing, Greenpeace is challenging EU countries to take action and eliminate excess fishing capacity where it matters most. Europe should also give preferential access to fishing opportunities to traditional and low-impact fishermen, as required under the new EU Common Fisheries Policy.
Greenpeace used a fixed list of criteria to identify the 20 vessels. These included four criteria related to the actual size and power of the vessel, namely:
- a gross tonnage greater than 4,000, and/or
- an engine power exceeding 5,000kW, and/or
- a carrying capacity of 2,000 tonnes or more, and/or
- a fish-holding capacity of 3,700 m³ or more
Other criteria relate to their participation in fishing activities for overfished stocks, the destructiveness of their gear, the level of by-catch, their participation in distant water fisheries, particularly where there is information of adverse impacts on local fishermen and fishing communities, the use of flags of convenience, frequent flag changes and, where available, information about abuses of human rights and labour laws on board of vessels. Greenpeace also considered whether the vessels’ owners and operators show evidence of pursuing an aggressive expansion strategy by building new vessels while no adequate capacity management plans are in place for their target fisheries.