THE Balearic ministry of agriculture and fisheries grants an average of 300 fishing licences a day during the summer, even though it admits that nearly half the people who go fishing in the Balearics do so without a permit.
Miguel Angel Calviño, the director general of fisheries, said that in most cases, it was not bad faith but ignorance of the regulations.
He said many people believed that it was not necessary to ask permission to sit on the rocks and dangle a rod and line in the water.
His department calculates that at the moment there are some 47'000 licences for recreational fishing (from land and at sea, but excluding diving) and that the sport is practiced by more than 87'000 people.
There are regular inspections on land and sea. There is an 8.5 metre boat with a skipper and two inspectors, which operates throughout the community. There is also a launch for each of the maritime reserves in Majorca (Palma, Migjorn and El Toro), Ibiza (Freus) and the north of Minorca.
The inspections increase while there is a ban on fishing certain species. For example, the ban for catching cleaver wrasse (which can command as much as 30 euros a kilo in the market) will be lifted on August 16.
Fines range from 300 to 60'000 euros. The 300 euro fine is for fishing without a licence but is hardly ever collected, as the person knows if they obtain a licence and appeal, the fine will be lifted.
The only requisite for getting a licence is to pay 11 euros and it is valid for two years. Over 65s and under 14s do not need a licence.
As a general rule, fishing is banned within port installations, at less than 100 metres from areas frequented by bathers, in areas where it is banned to preserve stocks, and Cabrera island. The fisheries department has published a booklet outlining what species of fish can be caught, times when fishing is allowed, who can obtain a licence and other information. It is given to everyone who requests a licence and is also available on the government website www.caib.es. Underwater fishing requires a proficiency certificate before a licence is granted.