THE GUARDIA Civil has charged 10 people for the illegal fishing of sea anemones, commonly known in Andalucia as ‘ortiguillas’ off the beaches of Marbella and Estepona.
Authorities confiscated 168 kilos of the species as well as netting equipment used to fish for the anemones.
11 charges have been raised against 10 people for fishing without permission, overfishing and failure to alert the appropriate authorities when diving.
Police suspicions were raised when they discovered the fishermen possessed specialist diving equipment but had not alerted the relevant authorities of its use and of their location, therefore going against safety rules put in place for those participating in aquatic activities.
Police believe that the divers had deliberately not signaled their position in an attempt to avoid detection.
After leaving the water, the illegal fishermen deposited their catch in crates with the suspected intention of transporting it to Cadiz where it would have been sold illegally.
The ‘ortiguilla’ is a gastronomic delicacy, and consumed in especially large quantities in Cadiz and Sevilla where they are in high demand, commonly fetching a price of 7 or 8 euro per dozen.
The illegal fishing of ‘ortiguillas’ has a double effect. Not only does illegal fishing harm the profits of those fishermen who work within the law, but it can also have grave consequences for the sea’s biodiversity, which cannot be accurately monitored if creatures are being fished secretly.