Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Spain Offshore gillnetter hake fishery - Moroccan Atlantic coast waters
Fishery  Fact Sheet
CECAF Fisheries Reports 2011
Spain Offshore gillnetter hake fishery - Moroccan Atlantic coast waters
Fact Sheet Citation  
Fileyeurs espagnols de merlus
Owned byFood and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – more>>
Fishery life cycleThis fishery terminated on 1999.

Overview: The fleet used to operate between 35ºN-25ºN, and from 200 to 400 m depth. The main target species was the European hake, Merluccius merluccius. However, an important catch increase of the Senegalese hake Merluccius senegalensis occurred during the last years, probably due to the extension of the traditional fishing grounds to the South. The most noteworthy features of the fishery were: high degree of specialisation in hake, mainly targeting the adult fraction of the stock; stability of the annual yields; and use of multi-filament nets since the end of 1994, in compliance with the Moroccan legislation at that time. The end of the Agreement in 1999 marked the closure of this fishery. The new fishing Agreement signed between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco in 2006 authorises the use of multifilament gillnets targeting black hake, into the category “Demersal fishing” and in an area located south of 29ºN and beyond 12 nautical miles. However, the licences provided to gillnetters have not been used until the moment.

Location of Spain Offshore gillnetter hake fishery - Moroccan Atlantic coast waters

Geographic reference:  Spain
Spatial Scale: National
Reference year: 2011
Approach: Fishing Activity

Fishing Activity
Fishing Gear:
Type of production system: Commercial; Industrial
Fishery Area: Morocco Atlantic coast; Morocco; Morocco coastal; Sahara coastal

Seasonality: All year long

Harvested Resource
Target Species: European hake; Senegalese hake
Associated Species: Axillary seabream; Dentex nei; Angler(=Monk) …  

Means of Production
Vessel Type: Gillnetters
Fishery Indicators
Nominal Effort: Number of vessels
Production: Catch total; Catch M. merluccius; Catch M. senegalensis

The use of gillnets (“volanta”) by the Spanish fleet in Moroccan waters started in 1977, acquiring a special development during 1992 and 1993, followed by a decrease in 1994 due to the banning of monofilament nets. Since the beginning of this fishery until it was disappeared, the fleet suffered continuous modifications in the gears employed, alternatively changing from longline to gillnet and the opposite. In fact, different fishing agreements between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco used to include both gears in the same fishing category.

The Spanish gillnet fishery operating in Moroccan waters until 1999, comprised around 30 fishing vessels of approximately 50 t each, based mainly in the port of La Guardia (Galicia NW Spain) at the end of the Agreement in 1999. During the last years of the fishery, these vessels worked under the conditions established within the framework of the Fishing Agreement between the EU and Morocco of 1995.
Fishing Activity
Type of production system: Commercial; Industrial   

Fishery Area
Climatic zone: Temperate.   Bottom type: Soft bottom clean sand.   Depth zone: Shelf - Edgeshelf; Slope - Upperslope (200 m - 500 m).   Horizontal distribution: Neritic.   Vertical distribution: Demersal/Benthic.  

Geo References for: Morocco Atlantic coast

The Moroccan Atlantic coast is part of one of the four major trade-wind driven continental margin upwelling zones in the world oceans, the northwestern African upwelling system (or the Canary Current System). In the Eastern Central Atlantic, the dynamics of an eastern boundary current interacting with trade wind-driven upwelling control this marine ecosystem with exceptionally high primary and secondary productivity (Cury and Roy, 1989; Binet, 1997; Demarcq and Faure, 2000). While coastal upwelling occurs mostly on the shelf, biogenic particles derived from upwelling are deposited mostly at the upper continental slope. Nutrient-rich coastal water is transported within the Cape Ghir filament region at 30°N up to several hundreds of kilometres offshore. Both upwelling intensity and filament activity are dependent on the strength of the summer Trades (Freudenthal et al., 2002).
Related Fisheries - Same fishing activity(ies) described by another national perspective (at the same or different aggregation level)
Morocco Offshore Spanish gillnetter hake fishery - Atlantic coast
Morocco Offshore Spanish longliner hake fishery - Atlantic coast
Vessel Type
Flag State

The technical characteristics of the vessels varied througth the different fishing agreements, from 73 GRT, 293 h.p and 20 m length in 1998 to 45 GRT, 218 h.p and 17 m length at the end of the agreements. The average characteristics of these vessels during the last 7 years of the fishery (1992-1999) were less than 50 GRT, 265 h.p. and 17 m length.

Catch Handling and Processing Equipment
European hake is classified by commercial categories, depending on their sizes, being eviscerated. Senegalese hake are also eviscerated. Catches are preserved in ice.
Fleet segment
The gillnet Spanish fleet has traditionally been composed of vessels from Galicia (NW Iberian Peninsula), mainly based in La Guardia and some of them based in Vigo and Santa Eugenia de Riveira. During the period 1989-1994, the third part of the fleet was based in Algeciras (Andalucía, S Iberian Peninsula), but from 1994 onwards the proportion of Andalusian vessels decreased in favour of the Galician ones.
Fishing Gear

This gear, locally known as “volanta” is a very selective gear consisting in fixed gillnets, always set in waters deeper than 200 m. These nets were 90-100 mm mesh size and constructed with multifilament of artificial nylon since 1994, after the banning of monofilament nets. The gear is rectangular shaped and it is composed of several joined sheet nets, set to the bottom by anchors. It is kept vertically through a lead-line in the ground-rope and a buoyed line in the head-rope. The dimensions of the net depend on the number of sheet nets that compose it. This number could oscillate between 50 and 100 sheets, corresponding to nets of 2.5-10 km nets long. Gillnets used to be set indistinctly at day or night-time. Two gears of the same length parallel and separated between them by 1 mile used to be set.

All year long
Trip Duration
The duration of the fishing trips depended on the distance to the fishing grounds. Therefore, fishing trips carried out in the Northern zone were 7-8 days long, while those developed south of 33ºN could last until 14 days.
La Guardia (mainly), Vigo and Santa Eugenia de Riveira in Galicia (NW Iberian Peninsula); and Algeciras in Andalucía (S Iberian Peninsula).
Fishery Indicators
TypeMeasureValueUnitTime period
Nominal EffortNumber of vessels 31vessels1996
ProductionCatch total2742tonnes1987-1996
Catch M. merluccius1732tonnes1987-1996
Catch M. senegalensis608tonnes1987-1996
Post Harvest
Fish Utilisation
Mainly Algeciras (S Iberian Peninsula)
Management unit: No

Jurisdictional framework
Management Body/Authority(ies): Ministère de l'Agriculture et de la Pêche Maritime. Département de la Pêche Maritime
Mandate: Monitoring; Management.  
Area under national jurisdiction: Morocco
Maritime Area: Exclusive Economic Zone Areas (EEZ).  
Management Body/Authority(ies): European Union
Mandate: Flag state responsibility for its fishing vessels operating in foreign area under national jurisdiction.  
Area under national jurisdiction: Morocco
Maritime Area: Exclusive Economic Zone Areas (EEZ).  
Legal definition
Long liners
Management Regime
Agreement on Cooperation in the sea fisheries sector between the European Community and the Kingdom of Morocco (OJ L 306, 19.12.1995, p. 7–43). Management measures of the Spanish gillnet fishery were included in the different Fisheries Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Morocco. This fishery was closed after the end of the Agreement of 1995-1999. Management measures described below are those included in the latest Fishery Agreement in which the fishery was allowed (OJ L 306, 19.12.1995, p. 7–43) under the fishing category “Long liners”.
Management Methods

CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT MEASURE with focus on Effort control- Licences system

  • Aquatic species-related measures
    Crustaceans by-catches were not allowed
  • Gear-related measures
    Gear type (prohibition of driftnets, encircling nets and monofilament or multifilament nets, excepting multifilament nets made by several filaments of natural and/or synthetic origin, which were allowed); Gear dimensions (maximum length of 1000 m; minimal length between sheet nets of 200 m, if the net is parallel to coast, or 100 m, if the net is perpendicular to coast).
  • Vessel-related measures
    Access control: Vessel size and number-Maximum 9 270 GRT (140 vessels) for both longliners and gillnetters in 1999.
  • Fishing activity-related measures
    Licences (quarter licences of the fishery category “Longliners”), vessel number (140 vessels for both longliners and gillnetters in 1999), closed area (inside 12 miles) and closed season (two months: 15 March-15 May.
Status and Trends
The fishery was closed at the end of the Fishery Agreement in 1999, with no renewal in the last Agreement of 2006.
Source of Information
Cervantes, A., I. Sobrino, A. Ramos and L. Fernández, 1992. Descripción y análisis de los datos de las pesquerías de merluza y gamba de la flota española que faenó al fresco en África Noroccidental durante el período 1983-1988. Informe Técnico Instituto Español de Oceanografía 111, 85 pp. Madrid, España.
Cervantes, A. and R.Goñi, R. 1985. Descripción de las pesquerías españolas de merluzas y crustáceos de África Occidental al norte de Cabo Blanco. En: C. Bas, R. Margalef y P. Rubiés (Eds.). Simposio Internacional sobre las áreas de afloramiento más importantes del Oeste africano (Cabo Blanco y Benguela). II, 825-850. Instituto de Investigaciones Pesqueras. Barcelona, España.
Cury, P. and C. Roy, 1989. Optimal environmental window and pelagic fish recruitment success in upwelling areas. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 46, 670–680.
Binet, D., 1997. Climate and pelagic fisheries in the Canary and Guinea currents 1964–1993: the role of trade winds and the southern oscillation. Ocean. Acta 20, 177–190.
Demarcq, H. and V. Faure, 2000. Coastal upwelling and associated retention indices derived from satellite SST. Application to Octopus vulgaris recruitment. Ocean. Acta 23, 391–408.
Freudenthal, T, H. Meggers, J. Henderiks, H. Kuhlmann, A. Moreno, G. Wefer, 2002. Upwelling intensity and filament activity off Morocco during the last 250,000 years. Deep Sea Res. (II Top. Stud. Oceanogr.) 49, 17: 3655-3674.
Fernández, L., A. Ramos y R. González, 1998. La pesquería de volanta en aguas del reino de Marruecos. Inf. Téc. Inst. Esp. Oceanogr., 170, 84 pp. Madrid, España.
Meiners, C. 2007. Importancia de la variabilidad climática en las pesquerías y biología de la merluza europea Merluccius merluccius (Linnaeus, 1758) de la costa Noroccidental Africana. Tesis Doctoral, 187 pp. IEO-Univ. Politecnica de Cataluña.
Meiners, C, L. Fernández, A. Faraj and R. García-Cancela, 2010. Length-weight relationships of 12 deep-sea teleost fish species from the NW African slope. Journal of Applied Ichthyology. In press.
Meiners, C., L. Fernández, F. Salmerón and C. Hernández, 2010. Some biological parameters of deep-sea shark species from NW Africa. Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria. In press.
Meiners, C., L. Fernández, F. Salmerón and A. Ramos, 2010. Climate variability and fisheries of black hakes (M. polli and M. senegalensis) in NW Africa: a first approach. Monográfico de Elsevier-Journal of Marine System, 80: 243-247.
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