Fishermen are seen on the coast through a telescope. | Marina Bagur

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Recreational fishing is a deeply rooted traditional practice on the island of Minorca which, at first, was considered a self-sufficiency activity and, at the same time, complemented the household economy. Nowadays, this practice, under current regulations, must be entirely for recreational and leisure purposes and cannot have commercial objectives, nor can professional equipment or gear be used. Although there are differences, the situation in Minorca is similar to other islands, and so are the solutions proposed.

Information on this recreational activity is scarce. The last and only comprehensive study carried out in Minorca on this activity dates back to 2000 - a study led by Dr Lluís Cardona and financed by the Government of the Balearic Islands and the Menorcan Institute of Studies. That was two decades ago. Since then, we know that the number of recreational fishing licences has increased from just over 2,000 in 2000 to 7,000 by 2021, largely due to the implementation and adjustment of regulations. We also know that the types of fishing practised in Minorca have changed over the years, but we don’t know to what extent they have done so.

The changes that recreational fishing has undergone range from the incorporation of new technologies, such as nautical probes or boats with more power, to the use of new fishing modalities and the greater frequency of fishing in deeper areas.

We also don’t know the socio-economic impact of this activity on the island's economy, nor the volume of catches. It is important to know the evolution of this activity to be able to manage it appropriately and thus achieve sustainability, not only from the point of view of the resource but also from that of tradition and culture.

Fishing in Minorca
Photo: Joan Morro @jmorromarti

From the register of authorised fishing licences, we can have an approximate value of the number of licences in force per year, even though the total number of recreational fishing licences does not equal the number of people who practise this activity, since a person can have more than one type of licence and, at the same time, the fishing licence per boat is for the vessel and any person on board the boat is covered. In the case of Minorca, in 2021, there were a total of 7,195 licences in force, of which 68% were for individuals, 28% for boats, and 4% for underwater fishing. With regard to the Balearic Islands as a whole, there are a total of 49,206 licences, so 15% of all recreational fishing licences in the Balearic Islands are in Minorca, although the island has only 4% of the entire registered population of the archipelago.

The Socio-Environmental Observatory of Menorca (OBSAM) wants to replicate the study carried out between 2000 and 2001 by Dr Lluís Cardona and his team and discover the changes and evolution of this practice.

The study consists of monitoring the fishing activity along the coast of Minorca for a year, taking a monthly census of the boats in the island’s ports and mooring areas, and creating a register of catches through volunteer fishers. In addition, we have launched a survey to characterise the fishing activity and gather the opinion of fishers. This project is financed by the Balearic Islands Agricultural and Fisheries Guarantee Fund of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Photo: Eva Marsinyach

Aims of the project

The general objective of the project is to update the information available on recreational fishing in Minorca and to determine the fishing effort. In addition, the development of the project serves the achievement of different specific objectives that contribute to the biosphere reserve on the island of Minorca. These are as follows:

1) To define a replicable methodology in time and space for the monitoring of recreational fishing.

2) To know the distribution and intensity of fishing activities on the coast of Minorca.

3) To determine the characteristics of recreational fishing at present and to identify the changes in trends over the last 20 years.

4) To determine the recreational fleet of the island.

5) To evaluate the catches of recreational fishing and the overlapping of these with those of artisanal fishing that coincide in space.

How you can collaborate

To obtain reliable data about the reality of the island, the participation of volunteer recreational fishers who are willing to provide information about their fishing trips is vital. In this way, real data can be obtained on which species are currently the most fished, how abundantly they are caught, the fishing gear used, and the most frequented areas of the island. This information will be compared with that obtained 20 years ago and analysed to see whether and how fishing activity on the island of Menorca has changed.

Anyone interested in participating as a volunteer can contact us by email: adm.obsam@cime.es

If you want to answer the survey you can do it at lanza.me/eq9