Spanish Galicia Goose Barnacle Cofradía System

Spanish Galicia Goose Barnacle

With tourism on the rise in Spain in the 1970s, the demand for goose barnacle, a traditional Spanish culinary delicacy, increased rapidly. With little scientific data on the goose barnacle stocks, the traditional fishing guilds, known as “cofradías,” struggled to manage their fishing areas effectively. All the while, external fishing pressure increased and the cofradías were unable to prevent outsiders from fishing within their territories. Fisheries officials attempted to regulate fishing efforts with temporal closures, but to no avail. Without effective management tools and appropriate controls on fishing mortality, the increasing market demand for goose barnacle led to the overexploitation and near collapse of the fishery in the late 1980s.

In 1992, the Galician government established TURFs for the goose barnacle through an approach of co-management between communities and the regional government. The TURF program granted secure and exclusive fishing access to the cofradías while giving them a large degree of management responsibilities, which include developing annual management plans and maintaining appropriate controls on fishing mortality. The Galician fisheries agency supports management by issuing individual fishing licenses, reviewing and approving management plans, and providing financial support for fishery ecologists in each cofradía to improve science and monitoring.

Today, goose barnacle stocks remain stable and healthy, supporting the livelihoods of fishing communities across Galicia. Since the program’s implementation, biomass and economic value have increased significantly, accountability has increased and there has been a significant drop in illegal fishing. Fishermen are now working together on conservation planning and conflict resolution, and they have a higher degree of organization and commitment to working effectively with government.