Fisheries Areas Network

Good Practice Short Story

Freeing maritime areas from poaching

Through cooperation between the island government and the FLAG, the fishing sector in la Gomera has been involved in the study, location and design of a protocol for the removal of traps used for illegal fishing.
For the island's fishers, the lack of control over poaching is one of the worst Achilles’ heels of the sector. The removal of traps is a step forward, but it does not solve the problem permanently. Only an increase in the protection of our environment, which is linked to the designation of Fisheries Marine Reserves in our area, will satisfy the sector’s historical demand for reducing the pressure on the marine environment
Inmaculada Hernández, La Gomera FLAG Manager

With 22 000 inhabitants, La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, is an EU outermost area economically dependent on the public sector and services, especially tourism. With only one guild of 29 fishers (Valle Gran Rey) and just 21 vessels fishing in two fishing areas, it has the smallest fishing sector in the archipelago.

In an area with these characteristics, the role of the FLAG is essential, as animator and promoter of the sector, which identified abandoned gear and poaching as one of the most pressing problems for local fisheries in its local development strategy. Due to the lack of surveillance and control of the fishing areas, abandoned gear, such as pots, continue to capture fish and others are used illegally to target certain species, such as the Mediterranean parrot fish.

Supported by the Island Council, a study was carried out, interviewing local fishers to identify the most probable areas affected by ghost fishing and/or poaching. A morphological study of the seabed was also carried out, using Lateral Scanning Sonar to locate and quantify the pots. Following the study, three areas were identified as being most affected by the presence of these pots. It was also discovered that, contrary to what was believed before the project, most of the pots thought to be abandoned are still actively (and illegally) in use. A withdrawal protocol was developed, including the technical removal methods and legal requirements for implementing it (due notice of withdrawal; licenses required to proceed with withdrawal; etc.)

The FLAG started the implementation of a second phase of the project in early 2021, focused on the effective removal of localised gear. Moreover, the FLAG is currently supporting the process of working towards national designation of these areas as “Fisheries Marine Reserves”. Requested by the local fishing sector, this protected status is seen as the definitive solution to the problem of poaching, as it would ensure a stricter surveillance mechanism.


Budget €15 408
EU contribution €6 548,4
  • EMFF: €6 548,4
Other public contribution €1 155,6
  • Regional: €1 155,6
Private contribution €7 704

Contact details

FLAG Contacts

Ms. Inmaculada Hernandez Chinea
+34 922 80 05 00
Publication date: 
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