The regional government today approved a decree on fishing tourism. Drawn up by the environment, agriculture and fisheries ministry, it will allow and regulate ways of diversified activities by the professional fisherman community.

Vicenç Vidal, the minister, says that this is something that has been asked for by the fishermen and that it will boost their profitability, bring new people to the sector and also help to conserve fishing stocks. For tourists, it will offer "a unique opportunity to witness at first hand the work of fishermen".

According to the decree, fishermen will be able to allow tourists on board when going out fishing. Tourists will, therefore, be able to go on fishing trips and watch fishermen at work. The new source of revenue for fishermen is expected to mean an improvement to their working conditions by reducing the number of hours they need to work and by also reducing risks faced when going out in bad conditions. It is also hoped that a younger generation will be attracted to fishing, while less time spent at sea will mean that fishing stocks can recover more swiftly.

There will also be the possibility of additional income from selling some of the catch direct to tourists. Add-on benefits of this, the government believes, will be to increase greater awareness of Balearic gastronomy from tourists being able to eat very fresh fish and to ultimately create a specific brand for Balearic fish. This, in turn, would result in better prices for the products.

Under the decree, fishing itself will only be done by crew members with relevant policies and insurance. The skipper will have responsibility for passenger safety. Children will not be able to go on board without authorisation from parents and people who require special assistance that would be incompatible with the safety of the activity will be unable to go on excursions. Passengers will, at all times, have to wear life jackets, and the maximum number will range from two to eight depending on the size of the boat.

Fishing tourism also brings with it the possibility of European funds. These can go towards the modernisation of the fleet. At present, boats have an average age of 35 years. The government hopes that the fleet will, therefore, become more sustainable and in tune with environmental needs.

The decree will, furthermore, mean that tourists become more familiar with coastal landscapes and so be a way of promotion, while seafaring culture that has been in danger of disappearing will also be promoted. Fishermen's guilds, it is also thought, will benefit from supplementary income for their social activities, especially those for retired fishermen.