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Spain closes the net around pirate fishing

Staff writer |
A notorious group of fishing pirates which netted €10m each year in profits from its illegal trade has been halted by an international effort comprising Interpol, Spain’s Guardia Civil and 14 other countries.

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Operation Yuyus has led to the arrest of six people for environmental crime and belonging to criminal organisations. Sixteen more are under investigation for being involved in the criminal group which has been active worldwide for several years.

As the investigation closes, the Spanish Ministry of Fisheries has announced that a network of companies linked to notorious Spanish-based fishing company, Vidal Armadores, has been fined a total of €17.84m.

The company has been suspected in more than 40 cases of illegal fishing activity globally, from using banned fishing gear to targeting protected species of shark. However, Vidal Armadores’ notoriety has developed primarily due to its involvement in the illegal trade in Patagonian toothfish.

International advocate for ocean conservation, Oceana, has praised Spain for its success in breaking up the group.

“Spain’s actions are writing the history of how illegal fishing is going to be eradicated from the world’s oceans,” said Lasse Gastavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe.

“Pirate fishing is not only an environmental crime, but it jeopardises the livelihood of legal fishermen. We encourage world governments to use the law, join forces and follow this unprecedented example,” he added.

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