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November 29, 2011

Fishing in the Balearic Islands: Artisanal vs. Trawling

Artisanal fishing vessel moored in Cala Molí, Addaia, Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. © OCEANA / Marta Carreras


The Balearic Islands have a long history of artisanal fishing. Apart from being a way to make a livelihood, this activity also represents a rich cultural tradition that distinguishes these islands from elsewhere. Unfortunately, overfishing among other factors, has led to a sharp decline in artisanal fishing in this archipelago. Pressure from industrial bottom trawlers, which destroy seabeds and ecosystems, as well as recreational and submarine fishing, which target large fish, is causing the disappearance of traditional fishing methods, which are more selective and sustainable.

To ensure the future of fishing in the Balearic Islands, artisanal fisheries must be supported over industrial fishing. It is also critical to ensure compliance with established regulations, progressively incorporate more selective fishing gear into fleets and develop a series of improvements that will allow this traditional activity to be profitable, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Read on for more details about artisanal fishing, the trawling fleet and what we’re doing about it:

• According to the Balearic Government, between 2007-2009 bottom trawlers spent an average of 55 € per 100 € produced, of which 40 € went to fuel consumption. Artisanal fisheries recorded an average cost of 35 € per 100 € produced of which € 18 corresponded to fuel consumption.

• Bottom trawling, despite generating fewer jobs than traditional fishing (228 vs 404) receives three times more subsidies: 3.3 million euros for fishing, versus 9.9 million for fisheries drag in the period 2002-2006.

• In 1974 the artisanal fleet was made up of 933 vessels, a figure that has since shrunk by a third to a mere 319 boats.

Today, Oceana is in the Balearic Islands, presenting our proposal for marine protected areas in this rich and diverse marine ecosystem.