STAFF REPORTER
MAHÓN

MINORCA is looking to widen its tourist offer by introducing traditional fishing and complementary activities for visitors, the Balearic government reported yesterday. “Boarding a boat to accompany a professional fisherman on his day out at sea, gathering shellfish, taking a trip to established fishing grounds and visiting the local markets for the catches, would all form part of the new offer,” explained Fisheries director Patricia Arbona yesterday. “And of course the whole experience would be crowned by enjoying freshly caught and cooked fish at a local seafood restaurant,” she added.

The Balearic government has proposed introducing fishing tourism in the region in a recently-tabled draft law on Maritime activity. The practice is not a new one and has already been successfully established in Italy and in Galicia on the mainland. “There is a strong demand to popularise fishing and encourage visitors to engage in what is after all a local livelihood,” said Arbona. Some fishermen's associations, she continued, are particularly interested in promoting the practice. “They believe their fishing grounds and the traditions still in use to land the catch will be of particular interest to tourists,” she furthered.

Arbona said, however, that the fishermen's associations recognised the restrictions that the accompaniment of tourists would place on their daily trips to sea and some believe, she said, that visitors could only feasibly be accommodated on smaller fishing vessels. “No one is going to claim that fishing tourism is going to be the saviour of the industry,” said Aleix Riera, President of the Fornells Fishermen's Association on Minorca, “but a growing number of fishermen have said for quite some time now that they could convert it into a profitable side line.” “What may prove difficult,” said Josep Caules, President of the Ciutadella Fishermen's Association, “is finding the fine dividing line between conforming to safety regulations and making some money out of fishing tourism.” Caules said that going out to sea is not like farm tourism where visitors can learn how to milk a cow. “If there's rough weather, the fishermen have to make sure everyone on board will be safe,” he warned
Riera meanwhile developed his argument by saying: “I don't think that it would be suitable for tourists to go out with the large trawlers, but where there are two or three fishermen operating from smaller boats using traditional fishing practices, yes, I think that's a real possibility.” Patricia Arbona is to take up these issues with Maritime Authorities and then Central Government's Ministry of Public Works. It is the ministry who will decide if the practice is sufficiently well regulated in the Balearics to offer to tourists.

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