Published December 6, 2019 | Version v1
Journal article Open

The decline of the fishing sector in the Southeast of the Iberian Peninsula and marine tourism as a proposal for development )in Spanish)

  • 1. University of Murcia, Spain


his publication belongs to the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network Working Papers Series Volume 6, No 1, “Artisanal fishing and cultural heritage: territorial conflicts, resistances, and social transformation in Colombia, Mexico and Spain” (in Spanish). (


Coastal towns in the Spanish south-east face a decline in the fishing sector caused, among other reasons, by the excessive exploitation of local fisheries due to the greater fishing capacity of vessels. This, coupled with the ageing of the population dedicated to fishing activities and to new security measures enforced by the European Union, has led to a reduction in the number of vessels and workers in the sector. However, at the same time a number of initiatives from the EU and government administrations are urging the owners of fishing vessels to diversify their activities to provide new income-generation opportunities for fishermen. One of the main activities being considered is marine tourism, which would be sustainable with the marine environment and could become a complementary territorial productive activity. If marine tourism were successful, it could guarantee the preservation of the unique culture and heritage of the regional fishing sector, which is in danger of disappearing.



This issue is part of the activities of the WATERLAT-GOBACIT Network’s Thematic Area 6 (TA6), Hydrosocial Basins, Territories, and Spaces ( TA6 carries out studies on the configuration of the hydrosocial space looking at different aspects and their transformations over time. These variables include, for example, political institutions, water infrastructure and technology, changes in the forms of ownership of land and water, beliefs and behaviours around the use of surface and underground waters, water commodification, and the pollution, care, and conservation of the water cycle. To understand this complexity we focus on exploring the historical transformations that have an impact on hydrosocial spaces. This includes changes in traditional productive activities, the difficulties they face to compete with the emergence of new activities driven by social groups with rival interests, changes in economic models and their subsystems, the changing flux inputs and products, the development of new water infrastructures, changes in the use of water and land, and transformations in the production of knowledge about these processes.

This issue addresses artisanal fishing as an ancestral cultural heritage that has become a territory of conflict and rapid social transformation. Artisanal fishing is one of the oldest trades in the world, a small-scale activity involving families and local communities, and developed in intimate interaction with marine or freshwater bodies. Artisanal fishermen and women depend on the activity for their family sustenance, both as a source of income to acquire necessary goods, but also because fish are a nutritious source of food that they can secure at a low cost. Artisanal fishing is also significant as an ancestral heritage that constitutes a way of life centered around the relationship between humans, water, and nature more generally, expressed in a range of maritime, riverine, lacustrine and other forms of hydrosocial identities.



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