What is fishsubsidy.org?
The aim of fishsubsidy.org is to obtain detailed data relating to payments and recipients of payments under the EU's common fisheries policy and make this data available in a way that is useful to European citizens. fishsubsidy.org is run by a network of European journalists, researchers and activists and our friends at the Pew Environment Group.
Why are you doing this?
Subsidy payments to the fisheries sector under the EU's common fisheries policy (CFP) and national policies amounted to approximately 6 billion euros in the period 2000-06. We believe that the people who are paying for this policy have a right to know where the money goes.
Where is the data from?
The data comes from the European Commission, which compiled it from data submitted by EU national governments that actually administer the common fisheries policy.
Is the data reliable?
The data presented on this website has been obtained from the European Commission. In several cases we have discovered discrepancies, inaccuracies and straightforward mistakes in the data released to us and wherever possible we have queried this and often obtained corrected data. Ultimately, the data available on this site is only as good as the data we have received from the Commission.
Despite the errors we have uncovered, we believe that the data is reasonably reliable. Among the most common errors are the following: misspellings and irregular spelling of place names; incorrect years (you may notice years as early as 1960 and as far into the future as 2264); incorrect recording of municipalities (in some cases the names of whole regions, e.g. Galicia, or entire countries, e.g. Italia, have been given as a municipality. We have corrected the most obvious mistakes that we have detected such as misspellings of place names but in general we have taken the decision to publish the data as it has been presented to us, mistakes and all. We believe doing so will encourage better record-keeping by the responsible authorities.
Who gets the subsidies, and why?
Subsidies can be paid to owners of fishing vessels and to public bodies and private enterprises responsible for running fishing ports. Among member states, the funds are concentrated in Spain, which receives approximately half of all the subsidies. While some vessels attract large subsidies most vessels do not get any payments. Subsidies are paid for the construction of new vessels, the modernisation of vessels, and the scrapping of vessels. In addition to subsidy payments, many fishing vessels benefit from tax breaks that reduce the price of diesel fuel but fishsubsidy.org does not track fuel subsidies. Public funds are also paid to improve infrastructure, modernise processing facilities, invest in fish farming and promote more environmentally sustainable fishing.
Why do you only list the names of vessels? What about the individuals and companies who actually receive the money?
We would love to publish the names of vessel owners (individuals or companies) and would also like to list the names of those companies and organisations that receive non-vessels subsidies. Unfortunately, the European Commission has withheld this data. From 2007 onwards, the EU has a new law on budget transparency that will require the publication of the end beneficiary and we will begin to publish this information as soon as we obtain it.
Why are no names given for 'non-vessel recipients'?
Around half of fish subsidies go to recipients that are not vessels, for instance, port authorities and companies processing fish into food. The European Commission chose not to release the names of these recipients so we cannot publish them on our website.
While we have obtained a lot of data about fisheries subsidies, there is still a lot of data that has not been released or has not been compiled into a data set. For example, we would like vessel-level information on fish quotas, fisheries and species targeted and infringement records.
Are you for or against fish subsidies?
We do not hold any particular view of how subsidies should operate, other than in a transparent and open way. We hope that the release of data on the website will help European citizens to be better informed and contribute to a constructive public discourse about fisheries policies in the EU. While those involved in the project may hold their own opinions fishsubsidy.org has no collective position. However, to help make sense of the various subsidy types we have adopted a classification developed by the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia. This classification divides subsidy schemes and measures into Good (green), Bad (red) and Ugly (yellow).
Haven't many of these types of subsidies been phased out? Isn't all this a thing of the past?
This website can only publish details of money that has already been spent and covers the period since 1994. Subsidies for the construction of new fishing vessels were phased out at the end of 2006. However, it is still possible to receive subsidies to modernise vessels, further fuelling over-capacity and over-exploitation of depleted fish stocks.
As new data on fish subsidies are released by governments, we will publish the data. For the period 2007-13 the EU is set to spend €4.3 billion in subsidies to the fisheries sector (approximately €837 million per year). Unlike the data for 1994-2006 which was released by the European Commission in a single data set, the data for 2007 onwards is published individually by EU countries, or by regional authorities. It is a big job collecting it all but we're working on it and will start publishing it in July 2011.
Does the data published on fishsubsidy.org give a complete picture of all subsidies to the EU fishing industry?
No. The EU also pays approximately €156 million a year secure access to fisheries in third countries for EU vessels (e.g. Morocco, Gabon, Mozambique etc). All diesel used by EU fishing vessels is exempted from fuel taxes. In addition, national governments may provide their own subsidies to their fisheries sectors.
Do you have information on subsidies to vessels fishing for tuna?
We maintain a list of vessels that are known to be part of the EU tuna fleet. This is based on the input of non-governmental fisheries experts and is subject to periodic updates. It is not a definitive list. If you have expertise in this area and would like to help us maintain this list, please get in touch.
Do you have information on subsidies to vessels convicted of breaking the law?
We maintain a list of vessels that are known to be have been convicted of serious infringements. This is a very partial based on press reports and court records and only relates to Spain, France and the UK. It is far from being a definitive list. If you have expertise in this area and would like to help us maintain this list, please get in touch.
Where can I find out more about European Union fisheries policies?
To find out more about the common fisheries policy, here are some useful sources:
- European Commission
- European Court of Auditors
- Consultation on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy
Who is funding the project?
Fishsubsidy.org is a project led by EU Transparency, a non-profit company registered in the UK and Kaas and Mulvad, a data consultancy based in Denmark. Funding for fishsubsidy.org has been provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Full financial details are here.
Can I republish data from the website
We'd love you to republish the data and we have made the database available under the Open Database License. This means that you are absolutely free to do whatever you like with the data (republish, remix, mash up) as long as you attribute fishsubsidy.org as the source and make any derivative works available to others. You can read more about the legal requirements and attribution on our legal page.
Can I have the source data on your website?
Of course you can. We believe in that this data should be widely available. If you do something clever with it, we’d love to hear about it. A public version of the data is available for download. To request the data in any other format, please email team(at)fishsubsidy(dot)org. We hope to produce APIs for the data very soon.
How can I get involved?
If you think you could help out with the project, please get in touch.
How can I contact you?
We want to hear your comments about fishsubsidy.org. Send email to team(at)fishsubsidy(dot)org.
Is the website multilingual?
The website is currently presented in English, French and Spanish. If you spot something that looks strange, please let us know. If you would like to help out as a translator to add more languages, please get in touch.
Why doesn't my search work? Why am I experiencing problems accessing the website?
If something is not working or you have suggestions for how it could work better. Send email to team(at)fishsubsidy(dot)org.