Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Spain Artisanal trap finfish fishery - Canary Islands waters
Fishery  Fact Sheet
CECAF Fisheries Reports 2011
Spain Artisanal trap finfish fishery - Canary Islands waters
Fact Sheet Citation  
Pesquería artesanal de nasas para peces de las Islas Canarias
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Overview: This small-scale trap fishery for many benthic species is carried out along the coastal shelves of the Canary Islands by small boats (7.5 to 12.4 m in length). Fishermen set the traps in well known and strategic locations. Traps fishing time oscillates between 1 and 3 days. The number of traps allowed by vessels is different from one island to another. The main caught species are benthic and demersal fin-fishes, octopus and some sometimes crustaceans. Catches are daily commercialized in local markets and/or ports of the islands.

Location of Spain Artisanal trap finfish fishery - Canary Islands waters

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

Fishing Activity
Fishing Gear: Traps (nei)
Type of production system: Artisanal
Fishery Area: Canary Islands; Spain; Canaries/Madeira insular

Seasonality: All year long …

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

Means of Production
Vessel Type: Trap setters nei
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).   Horizontal distribution: Littoral; Neritic.   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.
Associated Species (Bycatch)
Several demersal species with low commercial value.
Discarded Species (Bycatch)
Only small specimens of Conger conger have been observed to be discarded in places such as La Graciosa.
Related Fisheries - Fishery(ies) switching activity seasonally or targeting the same stock
Spain Artisanal trap shrimp fishery - Canary Islands waters
Spain Artisanal handlines and poles fishery - Canary Islands waters
Vessel Type
Trap setters nei
Flag State

They are wooden vessels of 7.5 to 12.4 m in length and around 200 h.p.

2-3 persons (Spanish nationality) (2009)
Fleet segment
Fleet artisanal segment typical from Canary Islands
Fishing Gear
Traps (nei)

These traps for fin-fishes are constituted by a generally circular-shape frame, inside-covered by a net o “forro”, with hexagonal and regular mesh. The trap have two entries and one door (the bigger ones can have two doors). The entries are called “bocas” (mouths) or “mataderos” and have different shapes. The narrower part of these entries are orientated to the inside part of the trap, in such a form that fishes can go into but not go out.


All year long

Environmental limitations: Strong trade winter during summer months

Trip Duration
1 fishing day
Mains port of each island
Fishery Indicators
TypeMeasureValueUnitTime period
Nominal EffortNumber of vessels 320vessels1999
ParticipationNumber of fishermen (Canary Islands)640persons2009
ProductionCatch total600tonnes1999-2004
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 and environment protection.

  • Aquatic species-related measures
    Minimum fish sizes established by Spanish legislation in the National Fishing Ground of Canary Islands: Serranus cabrilla: 15 cm, Serranus atricauda: 15 cm, Sparisoma cretense:20 cm, Diplodus vulgaris: 22 cm, Diplodus sargus: 22 cm, Pagrus pagrus: 33 cm; Octopus vulgaris: 0,750 kg, Prohibition of catches of certain species
  • Gear-related measures
    Gear type (net must be degradable), gear dimension (maximum trap size of 300 cm diameter and 100 cm high), mesh size (minimum mesh size: 50,8 mm between parallel sizes of the hexagon, minimum mesh size of 31,6 mm is admitted in traps that not exceed 100 cm diameter and 50 cm high). Use of baits is exclusively allowed to small traps.
  • Fishing activity-related measures
    Closed areas: 3 Marine Reserves: La Restinga (El Hierro), Fuencaliente (La Palma), La Graciosa (North-Lanzarote). Furthermore, traps are prohibited in inshore waters of El Hierro Island, in a delimited area of Lanzarote Island, and in “La Bocaina” and North Fuerteventura.
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-García, V., J.L. Hernández-López, J.J. Castro, 1998. The octopus (Octopus vulgaris) in the small-scale trap fishery off the Canary Islands (Central-East Atlantic). Fisheries Research 35 (3): 183-189.
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.
Melnychuk, M., S. Guénette, P. Martín-Sosa and E. Balguerías, E., 2002. Fisheries in the Canary Islands, Spain. In: Zeller, D., R. Watson, R. and D. Pauly (eds): Fisheries Impacts on North Atlantic Ecosystems: Catch, Effort and National/Regional Data Sets. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 9 (3). Pp: 221-224.
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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