The Balearic Islands have an advanced legislation to regulate professional and recreational fishing and guarantee a good use of marine resources. This includes minimum fish sizes, bans, a penalties system, time and space limitations and restrictions on fishing gears. Even so, illegal fishing continues to be a reality in our islands. There are many documented examples of this: from poachers with spearguns who fish in marine reserves, to professional fishermen who fish for longer periods than permitted, or recreational ones who catch species during closed seasons or catch smaller fish than is legal. A minority of illegal fishermen undermines and questions the good work of many; we must take a stand against this minority.
This summer, Balearic waters have witnessed illegal fishing on an industrial scale. Between five and seven fishing boats from Castellón, equipped with encircling nets, have caught amberjack and albacore in areas where it’s not permitted, probably by turning off the compulsory geolocation system (AIS). A blatant offence that deserves to be penalised. The irresponsibility of a few has consequences for many. We have a solid legal infrastructure to avoid episodes such as these, but we don’t have sufficient eyes in the sea. Illegal fishing means less fish, less profits, less enjoyment and less opportunities for tourism; therefore, stopping it is everyone’s responsibility!