VIGO/TARANTO - Extreme weather events made more frequent and intense by climate change — including marine heatwaves and torrential rain — are wreaking havoc on shellfish production across southern Europe, threatening the livelihoods and traditions that depend on this important sector.

Photo: A shellfish picker in Cambados, Galicia, Spain. By Naomi Mihara

 In Galicia, Spain, many women shellfish pickers have been unable to work this year because of the mass mortality of shellfish, while mussel producers are also reporting smaller harvests.

In Taranto, Italy, mussel farming is threatened by both climate change and contamination from Europe’s biggest steel factory. With the factory's future currently being debated, the city is torn between investment in the environment and big industry.  

While the €6 billion European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund is supposed to “guarantee the availability of food supplies, the competitiveness of the maritime economy and the livelihood of coastal communities”, many artisanal producers express frustration that governments are acting too late or prioritising bigger industrial interests.

This cross-border project explores how small-scale shellfish producers in several regions of Spain and Italy are coping — including abandoning the trade altogether or resorting to illegal harvesting — and investigates where the money which is supposed to be helping them is actually ending up. 

Team members

Natalie Donback

Natalie Donback is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona.

Natalie Donback

Naomi Mihara

Naomi Mihara is a multimedia journalist, editor and producer based in Barcelona.

Naomi Mihara

Vittoria Torsello

Vittoria Torsello is an Italian freelance journalist.

Vittoria Torsello

Juliana Ruhfus

Juliana Ruhfus is an award-winning broadcaster and investigative journalist based in the UK.

Juliana Ruhfus
€10,000 allocated on 23/11/2023


More to come


  • Italy
  • Spain

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