Cascais: The fishing town

Portugal is known for its great assortment of fish. Fishing is a big part of the economic, but also the cultural, history of Portugal. Its most known fish is the Bacalhau, better known as codfish.  Fisheries and aquaculture are important to the Portuguese government. They have different policies to protect the seafood sector. Cascais is one of the many fishing towns. Where there is one specific species that the fisherman catches.


Fishing by night

When walking into the port of Cascais you will pass a small dock. In front of the dock are a lot of small fisher boats bobbing around. On the dock, a few fishermen are untying their nets. Most of them just came back from a fishing trip and some of them are preparing for their fishing trips. Pedro, a fisherman in Cascais, says that his trips start, mostly, early in the mornings. “I work on a small boat. Together with my boss and another co-worker.” Pedro says that the fish they catch in Cascais are mostly octopus and seabass. “To find the octopus it is best to go fishing at night.”


The council of Cascais highly encourages fishing for octopuses. Octopus is the most fished species in the county of Cascais. The council wants to motivate the use of the local products. At this moment 91 percent of fishing ships are used for the capture of octopuses. This makes the trade of octopus a huge income for the local fishing population. Over the years the quality of the octopus stayed the same. In Cascais, the fisherman still uses traditional fishing methods. Pedro says that the fish he catches is mostly used locally.



The history of Cascais goes back to the Palaeolithic times[1]. At this time the first humans started to settle in the town along the seaside. Fishing in Cascais goes all the way back to medieval times. At this time Cascais was a small town with fishermen and farmers. Cascais had an advantage because of the position of its bay. This advantage made the city an important fishing port. Skipping a few hundred years forward Cascais experiences a turning point in 1870. King Luís decided Cascais would become his new holiday spot. This caused a lot of tourism in Cascais. To this day you can see the effects of the history of Cascais.


The government of Portugal Supporting the fisheries

The Portuguese government supports their fisheries sectors, as it is one of the most beneficial sectors for the Portuguese economy, with different policies. With these policies, they want to maintain employment, improve fishers’ welfare and ensure the sustainability of the sector and its resources.


The support of the government comes in different kinds of forms. Some services that the government provides aim to ensure the sustainability of the sector or improve the well-being of the fishing communities. The intensity of the fishing activities is also supported with these services but in a more indirect manner. The sustainability and the well-being of the community are a priority here. Fishermen also get financial help with operating their business. This help is in the form of education and training, marketing and promotion, and research and development. The service is there to help the fisherman with operating their businesses more efficiently and sustainably. Lastly, the government helps with the infrastructure.


Protecting the fishers

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) is very harmful to the fisheries sector. IUU fishing creates unfair competition. It weakens food security in countries that depend on local seafood, which Portugal is, and it undermines the regulation of the government. It is not sure what Portugal does to fight against IUU fishing, but there are a few things that could be implemented. Vessel registration, with this measure it is clear who is operating in a countries economic zone. Authorization is an effective measure. With authorization, inside the economic zone and outside the economic zone, the government knows who is fishing where. Measures in the port and the market can also discourage IUU fishing.


Covid and fisheries

Fishing and aquaculture have been some of the sectors that got hit hard by the pandemic. The demand for the products from this sector saw a sudden decline. Therefore, the European Commission implemented a few measures to support fishermen and aquaculture farmers. This comes to show how important this sector really is in Europe.




[1] The old stone ages