In addition to the subsidies available under the official EU funds, Member States can take the initiative to provide additional funding to their sector under the state aid mechanism. These investments are only approved by the European Commission on the condition that the subsidies comply with the objectives of the European fisheries policy and do not distort or threaten to distort competition.
In 2013, a six-month study done by Oceana showed since 2000 that EU Member States had granted €4.9 billion in the form of state aid to their fishing sectors in addition to the € 8 billion from the official EU funding mechanisms. Ireland, Spain, Italy and France lead the pack and account for almost 75 percent of the total amount of allocated state aid.
Of the 450 state aid cases analysed, 65% could be categorized as environmentally harmful or ambiguous subsidies, and less than 1% of the subsidies directly benefit the marine resources. Worryingly, 34% of the funds declared were marked as general aid and allocated to the entire fisheries sector, thus obscuring the objectives and true recipients of one-third of the state aid spending.