Oceana satisfied with the arrest of three owners of illegal drifnetters in Southern Italy

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Oceana has provided authorities with a variety of documentation and has reported more than 150 vessels using this illegal fishing gear


March 27, 2009
Madrid
Contact:
Marta Madina ( [email protected] )




Oceana is satisfied with the arrest of three captains and shipowners in the Italian port of Bagnara Calabra for their use of illegal driftnets. The accused are under house arrest thanks to the proceedings begun by the Prosecutor’s Office of Calabria as a result of a documentary aired by Italian TV channel RAI 3 on November 16 and carried out in collaboration with Oceana. They are charged with resisting authoritites during operations on the high seas and assaulting authorities at port, this last offense may lead to a jail sentence.

 

Driftnets constitute a serious threat for the conservation of endangered marine species including cetaceans and sea turtles. Oceana actively campaigns against the use of this illegal fishing gear and, to date, has documented and reported more than 150 Italian vessels that continue to use driftnets. Oceana identified the port of Bagnara Calabra as one of the hot spots for this illegal activity.

 

Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europa, states: “We thank the Italian authorities for the actions taken against the use of driftnets. We have been reporting the use of this illegal gear in Italy for years and have never observed any direct action, especially in the port of Bagnara Calabra, the base port of the three accused shipowners. This measure constitutes a radical change in the current lines of action.”

 

Apart from these arrests, Italy has recently had to return 7.7 million Euros to the EU for the continued use of these nets. These funds were meant to be used to convert the fleet to other fishing gear. Oceana also insists Italy should return the funds used for the second phase, because the subsidised vessels have been identified while using these nets.

 

On 5 March, the European Court of Justice condemned France for the use of illegal driftnets. The European Commission had reported France in December 2007 for a lack of control and inspection measures concerning illegal driftnets, and for not sanctioning the accused vessels.