The European Union has given out €34.5 million, between 2000 and 2008, to subsidise the Mediterranean tuna fishing fleets despite warnings from scientists that overfishing is pushing the species close to extinction.
Joe Borg, the European Fishery Commissioner, revealed that €23 million was given to fund the construction of new boats, including ultra-modern purse seiners that are able to land 100 tonnes in one haul. A further €10.5 million was given to modernise existing vessels, increasing their ability to track down and catch the tuna. Only €1 million was used to decommission vessels, but mainly for small-scale, local boats.
Spain received more than half of the subsidy, with French and Italian fleets the next biggest beneficiaries. Cyprus, Malta and Greece were also given money.
Scientists from ICCAT (International Council for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna) believe that the bluefin tuna stock was below 15 per cent of its pre-exploitation levels.
Eleonora de Sabata