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Pescatourism in National Park of the Atlantic Islands



The Marine and Land National Park of the Atlantic Islands (PNMTIAG) in Galicia, is one of the main tourist attractions in the Pontevedra area and key to the local economy. Over time, several artisanal fisheries and shellfish gathering activities have been developed within and around the national park. While these fisheries are still viable, as environmental standards become more important diversification into other sectors is now a priority for maintaining the local economy. Fishers and their families are often at the forefront of protecting the region’s environment, and are ambassadors for its natural, cultural, and gastronomic values.

To support these fishers in their efforts, three Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) in the area, led by the Pontevedra FLAG, came together to start the ‘Mar das Illas’ initiative in 2017. The project, supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, helps new start-up businesses that give fishers’ earnings a boost, while also ensuring the continuity of traditional fishing practices and diversification into pesca-tourism. Mar das Illas also tried to increase the visibility and local awareness of the natural environment and its conservation.

The FLAGs started Mar das Illas to promote entrepreneurial activities amongst local fishers, offering the fishers initial training on maritime-coastal heritage. Following the success of the project, the fisheries sector wanted to go further. To this end, two more initiatives (Mar das Illas II and III) were started to build on the fishers’ needs. These included new activities aimed at supporting entrepreneurship in pesca-tourism. Some of the activities were training programmes focused on sustainability, communication and raising awareness, a tutoring service for new businesses, and the development of series of good practices guides and protocols.


  • Training activities on how to develop marine tourism and sustainable fishing and tourism within the PNMTIAG space, with a total of 229 people trained between 2017 and 2020 - 41% of them women - and all of them from fishing sector or family members.
  • Several “Open Days” to promote pesca-tourism and tourist activities.
  • Four guides developed and published: 
    • Introductory Guide to Marine Tourism in the Atlantic Islands National Park area.
    • Entrepreneurship Guide in Marine Tourism and Pesca-tourism.
    • Manual of Good Practices in the Fishing Sector (focused on the PNMTIAG area).
    • Code of Good Practices in Fishing and Marine Tourism (focused on the PNMTIAG area).
  • Five protocols drawn up for the start-up of tourism businesses on: 
    • Customer service (in Spanish and in English)
    • Care for handicapped people
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Social and health protocols to comply with the security measures stipulated against COVID-19
  • Regulation proposal for pesca and marine tourism activities: this was developed through networking between the FLAGs, the Provincial Federation of Guilds of Pontevedra, the regional government and the PNMTIAG Managing Body. The proposal was made by analysing different models of regulations implemented by other regions, and their adaptation to the local area and its fishing practices.

Regulatory framework

The Spanish royal decree 239/2019 regulates the access to the activity of pesca-tourism in Spain, as well as the responsibilities and obligations in terms of environmental and social protection. 

In addition, the Spanish Maritime Spatial Plan has specific objectives for multi-use at sea and notably states one specific objective on pesca-toursim:“Creating an offer for pesca-tourism and marine ecotourism” (POEM, 2023).


Diversification of fisheries in new sectors is at the centre of many Local Development Strategies across Europe. Marine and pesca-tourism are profitable activities that can ensure the sustainable development of a coastal area. Moreover, such long-term cooperation between FLAGs is particularly useful and relatively simple between territories with many similarities (population, language, economic opportunities, common challenges). Once these “neighbouring groups” and common challenges have been identified, finding and implementing potential solutions is more efficient and becomes easier with the experience

Lessons learnt

The success of this project is fundamentally based on its dynamic and flexible nature, which has allowed it to be adapted to new needs identified throughout its implementation and new challenges (e.g. COVID-19). The involvement of the fishing sector was vital in making the project useful and having a lasting impact in the three FLAG areas involved. Starting from an initial smaller sized project, based on prior knowledge of the FLAGs, and gradually increasing its objectives with complementary initiatives, is what made Mar das Illas successful.
Cooperation is an efficient way of working that allows the FLAGs to develop actions foreseen in each of their Local Development Strategies, at a lower cost. This allows them to carry out activities that they could not cope with financially and administratively individually. In the case of Galicia, FLAGs receive good support from the regional authority which launched regular calls for FLAGs to cooperate.

Relevant links

FARNET Website - Pescatourism

Royal Decree 239/2019, of 5 April, establishing the conditions for the development of the fishing-tourism activity