For the second year running, Menorca has registered very few fishing disciplinary proceedings. There is an increasing sensation of impunity and a danger of poaching. There are public servants who are not carrying out their duties.
GOB has consulted the dossier of disciplinary proceedings regarding fishing for last year and, for the second year running, we find a pronounced drop in the number of penalties.
In total, between the agents of the Guardia Civil, the two Fishing Inspectors from the Consell and the three monitors of the Northern Marine Reserve, there were only ten disciplinary proceedings. This is a very low number compared with the 40 being processed from 2018 and the 52 processed in 2017.
Of the ten proceedings still open, eight refer to recreational fishing. Of those, four were processed for fishing in one of the two marine reserves of Menorca. The surprise is that the penalties applied for fishing in the marine reserves go from 151 euros, the lowest applicable penalty, to 480 euros, amounts that could be ineffective in dissuading possible offenders.
Along the same lines, we found an open file for a professional fishing boat that was found fishing off the Isla del Aire in the Marine Reserve and that was closed with a penalty of just 200 euros. With such low penalties, there is the danger that risk of a possible fine can be taken into account when considering the market value of the fishing that can be gained within a protected area.
In the open files, what is lacking is relating fines to commercialisation, which is one of the most effective ways to decrease poaching if it is intended to end illegal fishing.
When we analysed the open files by the different entities, six were started by the Fishing Inspectors, three by the Guardia Civil and only one was opened by the marine reserve monitors.
Already in 2019, it was reported that no files had been opened between the three monitors of the northern reserve. The reason given by the administrators was that year they had been competing for the allocation of three places of monitors. However, by 2020 the places had been awarded, but this did not result in much activity. In fact, the collected reports pointed to the surveillance boat not being used.
GOB wants to show its concern about the data from the files over the last few years. The fishermen themselves talk of the feeling of impunity and that is always to their detriment and to the fishing resources. Menorca has experienced the effects of the lack of surveillance, when a few years ago the biomass of the emblematic fish of the northern marine reserve dropped by some 80%.
It is always good to make more money, but more important is that the current employees show activity. Preserving the marine environment in a good state is an environmental and economic commitment. The potential wealth of the Menorcan marine area, that is currently declared a Reserve of the Biosphere, requires real, effective and constant surveillance.
There are protected areas in the Balearics that show a spectacular marine biomass. In Menorca we have to solve those problems that make us exemplary leaders in looking after the sea.