Report | June 23, 2017

Estimates of total fisheries removal for the Balearic Islands (1950-2010)

For effective fisheries management to be able to act, realistic fisheries removal data are needed, so as to assess exploitation levels and the impact of fisheries on the ecosystem. Unfortunately, official statistics underestimate catches in most countries and regions. In the Balearic Islands (Western Mediterranean), where artisanal fishing and industrial bottom trawling are the most important fishing activities, unreported catches are common. They consist of landings at ‘black markets’, subsistence fishing, recreational fishing, locally unreported mainland fleet catches and discards. Here, we developed the first estimates of actual total fisheries removals from 1950 to 2010 for the Balearic Islands. We gathered all available official landings data (from national and regional agencies and fishers sales notes) and unreported catch data using grey literature and interviews with fishers and fisheries experts. We paid particular attention to those species of high economic importance to bottom trawling and artisanal fleets. We estimated a total catch of over 570,500 t over the 1950-2010 time period, where official landings represent 44% (around 248,000 t), followed by ‘black market’ (unreported commercial catches) (24%), discards (18%), recreational landings (10%) and subsistence fishing (4%). The total reconstructed catch of 570,500 t is 2.3 times the assumed official reported landings of 248,300 t. Further studies are needed to obtain more accurate estimates of total fisheries removals from the Balearic Islands, especially for those species targeted by the artisanal fleet. Furthermore, additional insight into the taxonomic composition of the various catch components, including discards and subsistence/recreational catches is required.