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Spain: Fisheries
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Agriculture > Fisheries


Spain was Western Europe's leading fishing nation, and it had the world's fourth largest fishing fleet. Spaniards ate more fish per capita than any other European people, except the Scandinavians. In the mid-1980s, Spain's fishing catch averaged about 1.3 million tons a year, and the fishing industry accounted for about 1 percent of GDP. Sardines, mussels, cephalopods, cod, mackerel, and tuna, most of which came from the Atlantic Ocean, were the principal components of the catch. Fishing was particularly important in the economic life of Galicia, the principal fishing ports of which were Vigo and La Coruna on the northwest coast. Also important were Huelva, Cadiz, and Algeciras in the south, and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

In the mid-1980s, the fishing fleet numbered between 13,800 and 17,500 vessels, most of which were old and small. Deep-sea vessels numbered about 2,000. Spain's 100,000 fishermen made up one-third of all EC manpower in the fishing sector, and a further 700,000 Spanish jobs depended on fishing. Prior to its admission into the EC, the undisciplined behavior of Spanish fishermen was a constant problem for the government and for other European countries. Spanish vessels were frequently charged with fishing violations in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Entry into the EC brought access to most of its waters, but it also meant catches would be sharply restricted until 1995.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Spain was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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