THE Bay of Malaga, the last refuge for the Andalucian anchovy, or boqueron, is in dire need of protection according to a comprehensive study by the Directorate General of Fisheries, which began in spring with funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment.
With the results in, the large cover now appears set to be declared a Fishing Reserve, with some areas set aside for the preservation and regeneration of fisheries resources, as has already occurred at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River in Cadiz and Huelva Marine Reserve.
The aim is, of course, to protect the local fishing industry, with over 70 per cent of the officially-licensed boats operating out of Malaga, Fuengirola, and Caleta de Velez continuing to employ traditional methods, and although the fish are currently caught year-round, the plan is to introduce some form of temporal limitations in order to maintain stocks.
It is essential that local fishermen respect the new laws once they are in place, says the report, since the Andalucian anchovy, which once bred throughout the Alboran Sea, now spawns only in Malaga Bay, especially between the provincial capital and Fuengirola.
The particular topography of the bay, plus its various rivers, causes the larvae of anchovies, sardines, and several other species to congregate close to shore, and although their capture is illegal, fishing boats can often be seen just a few metres off the beach, particularly at night and in the early morning.