If you are thinking of coming to Catalonia to fish the River Ebro and have been trawling the websites you could be forgiven for believing that fishing with live and dead bait is permitted. Many of the websites offering fishing services on the River openly publicise that they use live eels, mullet, even carp as bait. Beware! Fishing with live or dead fish has been illegal for some years, and now the rules have been tightened even further.
When we first moved here we heard many conflicting opinions about what was was permitted and what wasn’t. However, since at least 2006 we’ve been aware that baiting with live or dead fish is prohibited because we picked up a “Fishing Rule Summary” from the licence office here in Mora d’Ebre. A short time later my son had a conversation with an Agent Rural who told him that although it was prohibited to use fish as bait it was ok to use something like squid. And since then, that is what we have told our guests. Until now…
In June this year one of our regular guests was fishing from the Mora d’Ebre Embarcador which is right outside our apartments. He was fishing for catfish on squid bought from the supermarket. The Agents Rurals came by to check his licence and also asked him to bring in his line. When they saw the squid they announced that he was fishing with illegal bait. We explained our understanding of the rules, only to be informed that they had changed in December 2009 and that squid was now illegal. They also made a point of telling us that it was the anglers responsibility to keep up to date with current law by checking the Medi Ambient website. Our surprise and apologies did nothing to sway them from their intention to make a legal report. A denuncia was completed and the rods were confiscated.
I checked the Medi Ambient site and could find no changes to what I had read on there previously. The relevant part stated: “The use of dead or live baitfish is prohibited in Catalan Inland Waters”
Some weeks later our guest received notification that he was to be fined 601 Euros. The law was quoted and in English translates as:
“Law 22/2009 of 23 December. Article 31.1: prohibits the use as bait of any fish, crustacean or mollusc, in any biological state, living or dead, and also of insects that do not belong to the local fauna.”
We helped our guest submit an appeal on the grounds that the information on the Medi Ambient website was misleading because it did not specify that using mollusc was illegal in accordance with the new law of December 2009. We attached a print-out of the relevant page. It is now November and we are still waiting for the outcome. But, interestingly, the page on the Medi Ambient site has disappeared! Removed entirely from the website in all 3 languages, Catalan, Spanish and English! Instead of a brief Law Summary, there is now a link to the entire law – all 29 pages of it – in Catalan only.
The removal of the misleading page makes us hopeful that in this instance the appeal is going to be upheld. Of course, the fact that there is now a link to the entire law removes any possibility of future appeals being made on the basis of a lack of information.
So, make no mistake: fishing with any kind of live or dead bait be it fish, crustacean or mollusc is prohibited on the Catalan stretch of the Ebro and the fines are heavy.
I’ll post the result of the appeal as soon as we have it, so keep checking back.
I also intend to post a Summary of the new laws and relevant fines in English as soon as I have it.