Fishermen ride sustainability wave

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The small harbour at Lira in north-western Spain is a pretty place to enjoy a drink as the Sun goes down.

Colourful boats bob on the waves, children play their breathless games along the sandy tracks, and fishermen and their families chat in the village’s small pine-clad bar.

But some here fear the future is less than bright for the sea and the catches it brings; they fear the Sun is about to go down on an entire way of life.

“Since the 1990s, there has been a big depletion of species in this area,” says Juan Manuel Gomez Leis over a glass of brown beer.

“In general, all of them have been depleted; here in Lira, octopus, squid, brown crab and turbot have virtually disappeared. We think over-exploitation and over-fishing is a large part of this, and we as fishermen have a responsibility.”

The Lira fishermen, led by Mr Gomez Leis, have embarked on a radical plan to safeguard their fishery: they are asking to catch less.

They want to establish a marine reserve along their stretch of coast, which lies between La Coruna and Vigo, two major ports in the province of Galicia. Within the reserve, fishing will be prohibited at certain places and in certain seasons of the year.

They hope this will allow the stocks of brown crab, octopus and turbot to recover, so the grounds where they do fish will regain their former bountiful condition. They hope that catching less will enable them to catch more