Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Spain Purse seine small pelagic fish fishery - Canary Islands waters
Fishery  Fact Sheet
CECAF Fisheries Reports 2011
Spain Purse seine small pelagic fish fishery - Canary Islands waters
Fact Sheet Citation  
Cerqueros españoles de las Islas Canarias
Owned byFood and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – more>>

Overview: This is one of the most traditional fisheries of the Canary Islands. It targets the small pelagic resources of the islands, as sardines, sardinelles, chub-mackerels and horse-mackerels. The fishery is developed through all year long and around every island. The fleet is composed of purse seiners, which work supported by powerful lights used to attract the fish schools, fact that makes the fishery more effective. There is certain seasonality in the fishery, being sardines more abundant during the winter and sardinelles during the summer. The catches are commercialized as fresh fish in local markets, while the surplus catches are used as baits for the traps fishery.

Location of Spain Purse seine small pelagic fish fishery - Canary Islands waters

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

Fishing Activity
Fishing Gear: Purse seines
Type of production system: Artisanal
Fishery Area: Canary Islands; Spain; Canaries/Madeira insular

Seasonality: All year long …

Harvested Resource
Target Species: Atlantic chub mackerel; European pilchard(=Sardine); Blue jack mackerel
Associated Species: Round sardinella; Madeiran sardinella; European anchovy

Means of Production
Vessel Type: Purse seiners
Fishery Indicators
Nominal Effort: Number of vessels
Participation: Number of fishermen…
Production: Catch

Fishing Activity
Type of production system: Artisanal   

Fishery Area
Climatic zone: Temperate.   Bottom type: Soft bottom clean sand; Hard rocky bottom.   Depth zone: Coastal (0 m - 50 m); Shelf (50 m - 200 m).   Horizontal distribution: Littoral; Neritic.   Vertical distribution: Pelagic.  

Geo References for: Canary Islands

The Canary Islands archipelago and its surrounding waters are part of the Canary region, which is located on the eastern edge of the subtropical gyre of the North Atlantic and is bathed by the Canary current fed by the Azores current (Fiekas et al., 1992). The Canary Islands act as a barrier to the Canary Current and the trade winds which introduce strong variability in the atmospheric and oceanic flows, giving rise to mesoscalar oceanographic processes, such as eddies and warm wakes, to leeward of the islands (Mittelstaedt, 1991, Hernández-Guerra et al., 1993; Arístegui et al., 1997; Barton et al., 1998). On a biological level, these phenomena entail an increase in planktonic production. Likewise, the water masses from the Northwest African upwelling displaced offshore towards the Canary Islands by the Ekman transport and the upwelling filaments may reach the eastern part of the Canary region. Consequently, this region straddles the transition between the cool, nutrient-rich waters of the coastal upwelling regime and the warmer, oligotrophic waters of the open ocean (Barton et al., 1998). All of this results in variability of the oceanographic conditions in the Canary region, both in a longitudinal and a latitudinal sense. Thus, it is expected that the effects will be manifested at the biological level, affecting the whole trophic chain.
Resources Exploited
Other resources: Stock de Sardinelles and Sardines 26º15'-28º17'.
Vessel Type
Purse seiners
Flag State

These are wooden purse seiners of 15 m length and 200 h.p.

5 persons (Spanish nationality) (2009)
Fishing Gear
Purse seines

This gear is locally called “traiña” or “sardinal”. The main body-net is composed of a number of long and rectangular sheet nets, horizontally delimited thought all its length by resistant net strips, called “cadenetas”. There are “lead-cadenetas” and “cork-cadenetas”, depending if they connect the main net either with the lead-line or with the float-line.


All year long

Environmental limitations: Strong trade winds during the summer

Trip Duration
1 fishing day
mains port of each island
Fishery Indicators
TypeMeasureValueUnitTime period
Nominal EffortNumber of vessels 30vessels1999
ParticipationNumber of fishermen (Canary Island)150persons2009
ProductionCatch 1079tonnes1999-2004
Post Harvest
Fish Utilisation
Local consumption
Local markets of Canary Islands
Management unit: No

Jurisdictional framework
Management Body/Authority(ies): Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Fishery, Food and Environment
Mandate: Management.  
Area under national jurisdiction: Spain
Maritime Area: Exclusive Economic Zone Areas (EEZ).  
Management Body/Authority(ies): Office of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishery and Water, Canary Islands Government
Mandate: Management.  
Area under national jurisdiction: Spain
Maritime Area: Exclusive Economic Zone Areas (EEZ).  
Management Regime
Law 6/2007, 13 April, modification of the law 17/2003, 10 April (BOC 77, 23/4/2003; BOE 162, 8/7/2003), of Fishery in Canaries (BOC 78, 19/04/2007; BOE 124, 24/05/2007). Management measures of the Spanish purse seiners in Canary Islands are included in the “Law if the Fishery” of the Canaries (BOC 78, 19/04/2007; BOE 124, 24/05/2007).
Management Methods

Conservation and management measures with focus on Effort control, catch control, fish size limits and environment protection.

  • Aquatic species-related measures
    Minimum fish sizes established by Spanish legislation in the National Fishing Ground of Canary Islands: Engraulis encrasicolus: 12 cm, Scomber colias.:18 cm; Trachurus spp.: 15 cm,Boops. boops: 11 cm and Sardina pilchardus: 11 cm. Prohibition of catches of certain species.
  • Gear-related measures
    Gear dimension (maximum size: 350 m length, “calones” and “puños” excluded, and 80 m high) and mesh size (minimum mesh size: 10 mm).
  • Fishing activity-related measures
    Closed areas: 3 Marine Reserves: La Restinga (El Hierro), Fuencaliente (La Palma), La Graciosa (North- Lanzarote).
Status and Trends
Stability in the catches
Source of Information
Arístegui, J. et al., 1997. The influence of island generated eddies on chlorophyll distribution: a study of mesoscale variation around Gran Canaria. Deep-Sea Res. I, 44, 71–96.
Barton, E. D., J. Aristegui, P. Tett, M. Canton, J. Garcia-Braun, S. Hernandez-Leon, L. Nykjaer, C. Almeida, J. Almunia, S. Ballesteros, G. Basterretxea, J. Escanez, L. Garcia-Weill, A. Hernandez-Guerra, F. Lopez-Laatzen, R. Molina, M.F. Montero, E. Navarro-Perez, J.M. Rodriguez, K. van Lenning, H. Velez and K. Wild, 1998. The coastal transition zone of the Canary Current upwelling region. Prog. Oceanogr., 41, 455–504.
Boletín Oficial de Canarias, 2007. Ley 6/2007, 13 abril, de modificación de la Ley 17/2003, 10 abril (BOC 77, 23.4.2003; BOE 162, 8.7.2003), de Pesca de Canarias. BOC 78, 19/04/2007.
Boletín Oficial del Estado, 2007. Ley 6/2007, de 13 de abril, de modificación de la Ley 17/2003, de 10 de abril, de pesca de Canarias. BOE 124, 24/05/2007.
Fiekas,V., J. Elken, T.J. Müller, A. Aitsam and W. Zenk, 1992. A view of the Canary Basin thermocline circulation in winter. J. Gephys. Res., 97, 12495–12510.
Hernández-Guerra, A., J. Arístegui and M. Cantón, 1993. Phytoplankton pigment patterns in the Canary Islands area as determined using Coastal Zone Colour Scanner data. Int. J. Remote Sen., 14, 1431–1437.
Mittelstaedt, E., 1991. The ocean boundary along the Northwest African coast: Circulation and oceanographic properties at the sea surface. Prog. Oceanogr., 26, 307–355.
González, J.F., M.T.G. Santamaría, L.J. López Abellán, A. Barrera, M.E. Quintero, E. Balguerías, J.A. Díaz Cordero, C. López and C. Presas, 2008. Length and recruitment analysis of small pelagics off the Canary Islands. In: Symposium Science and the challenge of managing small pelagic fisheries on shared stocks in Northwest Africa. 11–14 March 2008, Casablanca, Morocco (Manuscript submitted).
López Abellán, L.J., M.T.G. Santamaría, J.F. González, A. Barrera, E. Balguerías and M.E. Quintero, 2008. The incidence of SST and SSTA on the small pelagics catches from the Canary Islands. In: Symposium Science and the challenge of managing small pelagic fisheries on shared stocks in Northwest Africa. 11–14 March 2008, Casablanca, Morocco (Manuscript submitted).
Santamaría, M.T.G., J.F. González, A. Barrera, L.J. López Abellán, M.E. Quintero and E. Balguerías, 2008. Substitution of sardine (Sardina pilchardus) for round sardinella (Sardinella aurita) in the Canary Islands waters. In: “Eastern Boundary Upwelling Ecosystems. Integrative and comparative approaches”. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (España), 2-6 junio de 2008.
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