With the aim of stopping and finding solutions to curb illegal fishing and sales in the Balearic Islands, the Marilles Foundation carried out a study that included the participation of 80 representatives of professional, recreational and spearfishing fishermen, as well as inspectors, scientists, restaurants and organizations. non-governmental.

The results of the investigation highlight that infractions are common in all areas related to fishing, both professional and recreational and underwater. Current resources are not enough to tackle this problem and enforce existing regulations, both on land and at sea.

In addition, there are many barriers – legal, social and economic – that make inspection work difficult by inspectors and the security force. The vast majority of those consulted are aware of cases of infringements by individuals, restaurants and hotels, but have never acted on it. Most of the restaurants surveyed have been offered illegal fish.

“The illegal fishing and sale of fish products represents a hemorrhage of money and jobs for our economy that must be stopped urgently. It is a problem that weakens the professional and recreational fishing sector; it damages the recreational opportunities of divers and bathers and the economic activity associated with them; and destroys the image of a region that wants to be a model of sustainability. The administration must deal with this problem by providing more financial resources. Fishermen must act firmly to curb illegalities within their sector. And restaurants and consumers must say no to illegal fish. ”, Declares Aniol Esteban, director of the Marilles Foundation.

The study has also recorded the existence of specific cases of collusion between fishermen, professionals and recreationalists to “launder” fish and organized groups that sell fish illegally with warning systems to avoid being intercepted by inspectors. “There is a minority of people who damage the reputation of entire sectors. But there are also people who, through ignorance, are involuntary accomplices in illegal fishing. Faced with a problem so big and difficult to cover, correct information and communication play a key role in ending it, ”says Ana Riera, from Mallorca Preservation.

The aim of the study is to put on the table a problem that everyone knows about, but which no one talks about. Research results have been shared with representatives from all sectors, most of whom have validated the results and shared solutions.

From Ibiza Preservation, its director, Inma Saranova, considers it essential to join forces in the Balearic Islands to combat illegal fishing practices and thus ensure the protection of life in the Mediterranean Sea: “We have to bet on sustainable fishing that implies leaving enough fish in the sea to ensure its replacement, respect for the marine habitats of the Balearic Islands, and guarantee that people who depend on fishing on our islands can continue to maintain their way of life “.

The investigation has been carried out under the rule “Chatham house”, according to which it is revealed what is said, but not who says it. The study has had the financial support of Mallorca Preservation and Blue Marine; and the collaboration of Menorca Preservation and Ibiza Preservation.

A fisherman removes lobsters from the nets. Photo: David Arquimbau.