Integral Multi-fishery Management Plan for Fuerteventura Island

Artisan fishing is a rooted traditional activity of great social importance in the island of Fuerteventura. Aware of the limitations on the coastal resources, the island’s fleet is seeking a sustainable exploitation of its fishing resources and has driven notable initiatives with a view to ensure a future for fishing.

Through a participative process and using fishing management mechanisms and tools, fishers´ associations or “Cofradías” of Fuerteventura are promoting, with the help of other sectors related to the knowledge and management of fisheries in the Canary Islands, the design and implementation of an Integral Multi-fishery Management Plan for the island, in response to the current issues and to help comply with the legal obligations applicable regarding conservation and fishery management.

Fuerteventura Island, Canary Islands




The fishing area in the island of Fuerteventura covers jurisdictional waters with a high natural value, where there operates a small-scale fleet consisting of 100 small and multi-purpose boats, with about 150 fishers belonging to three associations: Corralejo, Gran Tarajal and Morro Jable directly active in the area.  The traditional fishing activities carried out by this fleet vary throughout the year, subject to the resources available.  They primarily use hook gears (lines and rods), highlighting the harvesting of tuna and species related to bottom fishing, such as red porgy, dentex or giant pink bream, groupers and parrot fish.  By means of a special fishing plan, with scientific follow-up and within space and time limits, a small part of the fleet also uses creels or baskets for fish and drums for moray eels.  For bait fishing, they use purse-seine (“traíña and chinchorro”) and raised round nets (“gueldera”). For decades, the fishers of the island have been trying to develop fishing activities that respect the environment, betting on the sustainability and preservation of the waters of Fuerteventura.



The fisher’s associations of the island are known for driving collective management actions geared towards the preservation and recovery of resources, such as forbidding or limiting the fishing gear, or imposing minimum sizes for a more restrictive harvest of some species, etc.  However, not all these good practices have been adopted in the regulations, and they are not mandatory for other fishers that have free access to these fishing grounds.

A participatory process is being developed at Fuerteventura that seeks the agreement of the island’s fishers, administrators, local researchers, and environmental NGOs interested in preparing the Integral Multi-fishery Management Plan based on the best knowledge available. The goal is to prepare it from an ecosystemic standpoint, within a frame of dialogue, transparency and consensus, fostering joint liability and observance of the legal obligations applicable on marine conservation and adaptive fishery management.



In July 2014, the leaders of the three fishers´ associations of Fuerteventura agreed with WWF on the convenience of driving a participatory process in the island to design a Management Plan for the purpose of attaining the environmental and socio-economic sustainability contemplated in the Joint Fishing Policy.  This proposal was submitted in October 2015 to the state, autonomic and insular fishing administration, as well as to renowned researchers and interested environmental NGOs, who confirmed their interest therein.

There were interviews at the port and standardized surveys of a representative number of fishers.  The information gathered was finally validated in its entirety by the sector by holding participatory workshops.  Concurrently, there were meetings with the administration, researchers and NGOs to learn about their concerns and needs.

Based on this, a preliminary diagnosis of the situation was prepared including the vision, concerns and interests of all stakeholders. Among the most relevant problems there is the lack of means and coordination for surveillance and control of poaching, the lack of stable channels for dialogue between the various stakeholders, the dearth of information and follow-up on the fisheries’ for their management on scientific bases, or the lack of a fishing management strategy within a proper legislative framework that ensures the re-generation of resources.

In November 2016, a workshop was held at Puerto del Rosario (Fuerteventura) gathering all the sectors for the first time. This workshop was a turning point in the process, since it completed and validated the diagnosis by using participatory methods.  Additionally, a unanimous agreement was reached to form of a stable task force in charge of preparing a Fishing Management Plan to address the challenges posed in the diagnosis. A Coordination Group was formed in 2017, where the various stakeholders of this process are represented, and the goals and objectives of the Management Plan have been jointly established.




Currently, the coordination group is compiling data to conduct a Productivity and Susceptibility Analysis (PSA). This analysis will assess the vulnerability of 15 commercial demersal species that are most important for the island’s fishers and serve as basis for defining a management strategy that prioritizes actions for these species.




The participatory activities, such as surveys and interviews, have enabled gathering relevant information about the starting conditions and to share the problems and needs among stakeholders, identifying common concerns. These actions have provided transparency and established trust bonds during the process. Using these tools allows obtaining an important diagnosis of the needs and expectations.

The meetings among stakeholders provide ample, collective and transverse participation that facilitates dialogue among the parties, and generate the trust required to reach common agreements and plan concrete and prioritized work actions.


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