Spanish authorities tackle illegal shellfish harvest
A massive shipment of illegally harvested shellfish has been intercepted by Spanish authorities, the Spanish Civil Guard revealed in a statement on Tuesday.
Some 16 tons of tasty invertebrates were caught being shipped to Spain and 9 people were arrested.
“Molluscs, mainly from Portugal and caught in areas restricted or prohibited by illegal shellfish [mongers], were introduced into Spain thanks to the use of falsified capture and transport documents, ”explained the Civil Guard.
According to the Civil Guard, shellfish were often sold without appropriate sanitary measures, raising the possibility that some were unfit for human consumption.
This is not the first time that the Spanish authorities have come up against illegal, unauthorized and unregulated (IUU) fishing operations. In 2018, 79 people were arrested for unlicensed tuna trafficking.
This illegal fishing is a massive global criminal industry, accounting for around 20 percent of global catches, according to Interpol.
As Spain attests, the illicit ramifications of IUU fishing are not confined to the high seas either.
“Money laundering, labor exploitation, corruption and counterfeiting are just a small sample of the serious crimes commonly committed in IUU fishing today,” Interpol said in a 2020 report. Fishing vessels are also often used to smuggle people, drugs and firearms, as well as to carry out acts of piracy or terrorist attacks. “
The report further notes that on land, participants “conspire with accountants to launder money, maintain corrupt relations with government officials, forge regulatory documents and systematically use forced labor on their ships.”