Spain’s fishy practices

Some quotes stay with you forever.

One that’s stayed with me came from Rafael Centenera, a general assistant director in Spanish fisheries ministry, when I interviewed him in Vigo, Europe’s busiest fishing port, in 2007.

“For sure we are friends of fish,” he said. “But still more, we are the friends of fishermen.”

The reason these 16 words have stayed with me is that they encapsulate perfectly the approach to managing fisheries that has held sway for many years in most of Europe and indeed much further afield.

What it implies is that a bit of restraint and conservation is fine – so long as it doesn’t get in the way of fishermen’s profits.

What that stance implies in Spain has been laid out more clearly than ever in a new report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

According to their analysis, Spanish fishing has been subsidised to the tune of 5.8bn euros ($7.8bn,