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Welcome to the GFCM Database on National Fisheries Legislation

Please read the 'Introduction' in the Main Page before starting.

N.B: the below reported contents are currently subject to revision and will be thus updated in due course.


For further information, please visit the Fisheries and Aquaculture Country Profile of Spain in the FAO Website, here.

Spain has been a member of the GFCM since the 19th of October 1953. The country is party to the UN Law of the Sea Convention (19 January 1997) and the UN Fish Stock Agreement of 1995 (19 December 2003). Spain has not ratified the FAO Compliance Agreement of 1993 and also the FAO Port State Measures Agreement of 2009.


At national level, and without prejudice to EU law, several legislation regulate the fishing capacity: LEY 3/2001, Art. 41, d; Royal Decree 1549/2009, sobre ordenación del sector pesquero y adaptación al Fondo Europeo de la Pesca; Royal Decree 1440/1999, por el que se regula el ejercicio de la pesca con artes de arrastre de fondo en el caladero nacional del Mediterráneo, Art. 8; Royal Decree 2176/2004. por el que se modifica el Real Decreto 429/2004, de 12 de marzo, por el que se establecen medidas de ordenación de la flota pesquera de cerco; Royal Decree 395/2006, por el que se establecen medidas de ordenación de la flota pesquera que opera con artes fijos y artes menores en el Mediterráneo, Art 2.

Access regime to fisheries resources

Only fishing vessels included in the “Censo de Buques de Pesca Marítima (DG de Marina Mercante) are allowed to fish (LEY 3/2001, Art. 22). Authorisations for “exterior waters” are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Alimentation and Environment (Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente or MARM) whereas those for “interior waters” (mainly shellfish and aquaculture) are issued by Autonomous Communities. Likewise, all fishing vessels allowed to fish must be included into the “Censo de la Flota Pesquera Operativa”, managed by MARM, whose content is part of the EU “Community Fleet Register”.

Administrative authorizations and licenses

Every vessel intended for professional (commercial) fishing must carry on board a fishing license issued by MARM (LEY 3/2001, Art. 23). Its validity is 2 years. For fishing vessel aimed at artisanal fishing (“artes menores), the validity is 5 years.

Fishing license can be suspended or revoked by administrative sanction, according to the level of the infringement, or even temporally withdrawn from census after 2 years without any fishing activity. If no re-activation is requested after 7 years without fishing activity, the fishing license is definitively withdrawn from the Fleet Register.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Main fisheries laws and regulations

Conservation and control measures

A Comprehensive Management Plan for the Conservation of Fisheries Resources within the Mediterranean has been established (Ministerial Order ARM/143/2010), further to the one established in 2006, and affects the Spanish Mediterranean fishing fleet for bottom trawl, purse seine, longliners and “Artes Menores” - Main aim is reduction of fishing effort, and the establishment of other measures as closed areas, authorised distances and depths for trawling, protected habitats, prohibited gears or volume of daily landings for some species.

Restrictions apply on fisheries resources

Area and time restrictions

Temporary closures in certain areas are established by Ministerial Orders, published annually.

Marine reserves are established by Ministerial Order or by regional regulations (in interior waters (LEY 3/2001, Art 13-18).
In particular,7 out of the 10 State Marine Reserves are within the Mediterranean Sea:

Others area and time restrictions are established under Ministerial Order 143/2010 (Art 6;9).

Minimum sizes

Without prejudice to the provisions of EU law, minimum sizes are established under Royal Decree 560/1995, modified by Royal Decree 1615/2005.

The list of protected species is established under Law 42/2007, de 13 de diciembre, del Patrimonio Natural y de la Biodiversidad, which creates the “Listado de Especies Silvestres en Régimen de Protección Especial” and the “Catálogo Español de Especies Amenazadas”. It has been lastly updated in Royal Decree 139/2011-BOE 23 Feb 2011.Without prejudice to EU law, Ministerial Order ARM/2689/2009 prohibits the fishing of sharks of family Alopiidae and family Sphyrnidae.

Protected species

This subject is covered by European Union legislation.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Fishing gear and methods

Fishing gear and methods are regulated by several legislation:

  • LEY 3/2001;
  • Royal Decree 1440/1999 (bottom towed nets);
  • Ministerial Order APA/37/2007 and Royal Decree 395/2006 (fixed gillnets and entangling nets, bottom-set longline, hook riggings, traps);
  • Ministerial Order ARM/2529/2011 and Royal Decree 429/2004 (surronding nets; purse seine);
  • Ministerial Order APA/2521/2006 and Ministerial Order ARM/2023/2010, that modifies M.O. ARM/143/2010 (surface longline).

The use of drift nets in the Mediterranean has been prohibited by Ministerial Order of October 22th 1990.

Requirements due to fishing vessels


This subject is covered by European Union legislation.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Reporting obligation

This subject is covered by European Union legislation.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject


This subject is covered by European Union legislation.

Landing of catch

This subject is covered by European Union legislation.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject


This subject is covered by European Union legislation.

Vessel Monitoring System

This subject is covered by European Union legislation.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject


Without prejudice to the provisions of EU law, the main provisions governing the monitoring, control and surveillance are found in Royal Decree 176/2003, which regulates the exercise of the functions of control and inspection of fishing activities at sea and LEY 3/2001, Title I, Chapter VI (Control and inspection of fishing activity).

Inspection powers are listed under Royal Decree 747/2008, de 9 de mayo, por el que se establece el Reglamento del régimen sancionador en materia de pesca marítima en aguas exteriores (Art. 18).

Sanctions related to fisheries legislation infringement are enshrined whitin LEY 3/2001 (Title V, Chapter IV).

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject
REC. GFCM/33/2009/8 on the establishment of a list of vessels presumed to have carried out IUU fishing in the GFCM area

Principal Legal Measures on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance

Orden ARM/3145/2009 - Implantación del registro y transmisión electrónicos de los datos de la actividad de los buques pesqueros españoles
Landing of catch
28 de mayo de 2010, de la Dirección General de Recursos Pesqueros y Acuicultura, por la que se publica el Acuerdo de Consejo de Ministros de 20 de mayo de 2010, por el que se modifica el anexo del Acuerdo de Consejo de Ministros, de 4 de diciembre de 2009



This sections will be updated in due course.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject


Official State Bulletin:;Website of the Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente:; LaMed Questionnaire.