Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Spain Artisanal handlines and poles fishery - Canary Islands waters
Fishery  Fact Sheet
CECAF Fisheries Reports 2011
Spain Artisanal handlines and poles fishery - Canary Islands waters
Fact Sheet Citation  
Pesquería artesanal de líneas de mano de las Islas Canarias
Owned byFood and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – more>>

Overview: This is the most traditional fishery in the islands and one of the first ones developed in the area. It is an artisanal fishery carried out with hook and synthetic lines fishing gears. There are different types of handlines and they also use different types of baits, depending on the target species. The fishery is developed through all year long and around every island. Canarian fishermen have a very good knowledge of the fishery and the places to develop it, heritage of their ancestors. Fish commercialization takes places at local markets of the different islands.

Location of Spain Artisanal handlines and poles fishery - Canary Islands waters

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

Fishing Activity
Fishing Gear: Handlines and hand-operated pole-and-lines
Type of production system: Artisanal
Fishery Area: Canary Islands; Spain; Canaries/Madeira insular

Seasonality: All year long …

Harvested Resource
Target Species: Parrotfish; Sargo breams nei; Dentex nei …  

Associated Species: Sargo breams nei; Dentex nei; Red porgy

Means of Production
Vessel Type: Pole and Line vessels
Fishery Indicators
Nominal Effort: Number of vessels
Participation: Number of fishermen…
Production: Catch total

Fishing Activity
Type of production system: Artisanal   

Fishery Area
Climatic zone: Temperate.   Bottom type: Hard bottom.   Depth zone: Coastal (0 m - 50 m); Shelf (50 m - 200 m); Slope - Upperslope (200 m - 500 m).   Vertical distribution: Demersal/Benthic.  

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: Local costal insular stocks of finfishes.
Related Fisheries - Fishery(ies) switching activity seasonally or targeting the same stock
Spain Artisanal trap finfish fishery - Canary Islands waters
Spain Artisanal trap shrimp fishery - Canary Islands waters
Vessel Type
Pole and Line vessels
Flag State

They are wooden or fiberglass vessels of 7 m length and 60 h.p.

2 persons (Spanish nationality) (2009)
Fleet segment
These is an artisanal fleet segment typical from the Canary Islands compound by small, fast and light vessels that carry out daily fishing trips.
Fishing Gear
Handlines and hand-operated pole-and-lines

All fishing gears working with lines and hooks are included in this gear type. Lines can be fiber, synthetic or metallic made. Handline is a type of vertical gear, constituted by a long or “mother” hand or cane-line, from where other lines with hooks or “brazoladas” hang. There is ballast at the final extreme of the gear, to keep it vertically.


All year long

Environmental limitations: Winter storms and strong summer trade winds

Trip Duration
1 fishing day
Mains port of each island
Fishery Indicators
TypeMeasureValueUnitTime period
Nominal EffortNumber of vessels 400vessels1999
ParticipationNumber of fishermen (Canary Islands)800persons2009
ProductionCatch total134tonnes1999-2004
Post Harvest
Fish Utilisation
Local consumption
Local markets
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, environment protection.

  • Aquatic species-related measures
    Minimum fish sizes (established by Spanish legislation in the National Fishing Ground of Canary Islands: Epinephelus marginatus: 45 cm, Mycteroperca fusca: 35 cm, Serranus cabrilla: 15 cm, Serranus atricauda: 15 cm, Sparisoma cretense: 20 cm, Diplodus vulgaris: 22 cm, Diplodus sargus: 22 cm, Pagrus pagrus: 33 cm), Dentex gibbosus: 35 cm. Prohibition of catches of certain species.
  • Fishing activity-related measures
    Closed areas: 3 Marine Reserves: La Restinga (El Hierro), Fuencaliente (La Palma), La Graciosa (North-Lanzarote).
Status and Trends
General decrease in catches and fish sizes
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.
Balguerías, E., 1995. La pesca de los costeros canarios en el Banco Sahariano: antecedentes históricos y situación actual. La chopa, Spondyliosoma cantharus (Linnaeus, 1758) como ejemplo de aplicación de métodos simples para la evaluación de stocks en la pesquería artesanal canaria. Microfichas Instituto Español de Oceanografía Volumen nº 6.
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.
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