Today sees the launch of fishsubsidy.org, a new transparency website from the farmsubsidy.org stable. It presents data on 97,260 payments totalling 8.5 billion euro from 1994 to 2006 under the European Union’s common fisheries policy.
They had to do significant work to clean up and harmonise the data:
The data was provided by the European Commission and since the first disclosure in 2007, we have received a further three versions of the data, each time a little bit cleaner and with fewer mistakes. It has been a long process to obtain and verify the data and there are still errors and anomalies (for example misspellings, errors in location and date information and some completely blank fields). The data also fails to identify the owners of the vessels receiving subsidy or the companies and organisations who receive non-vessel fisheries subsidies. It is by no means a perfect data set but we think now is the right time to publish it on fishsubsidy.org.
Also, they express concern over the way in which the data is currently collected and published – which makes it difficult to get an overview of where money disbursed under the European Union’s common fisheries policy is going:
We intend to update the database with new data for subsequent years but it is a major cause for concern that from 2007 onwards, the data on fisheries subsidies is to be made available in a highly fragmented way – each member state having responsibility for the disclosure of its own data. This is an unwelcome departure from the previous arrangements where the Commission played a co-ordinating role and compiled data from all member states to release to us. The fragmented future system of discloser will make it much more difficult to locate, extract and compile the data and as a consequence, much harder to achieve a genuinely pan-EU overview of what is going on.
We’ve created a CKAN package at:
Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at jonathangray.org and he tweets at @jwyg.