The harvesting of littoral benthic shellfish in the archipelago of Madeira dates back to the fifteenth century when the Portuguese discovered and colonized the archipelago. The consumption of littoral shellfish is part of the gastronomic cultural heritage of this region, appreciated by the local population and tourists, and has a high social and economic importance. Therefore, harvesting pressure on these resources is one of the greatest concerns, and as such, a sustainable exploitation based on proper regulation, considering the biological and ecological specificities of these species in their particular habitat, is crucial to promote the preservation of species and habitats at medium and long terms. This study presents the current harvesting management regime for gastropods in the archipelago of Madeira and characterizes the artisanal harvest through a period of 27 years (1990–2017) providing new insights for future research in these topics. This artisanal harvesting operates mostly by small vessels (<10 m), with low tonnage and capacity, in nearby areas preferentially in the North coast of Madeira and around Desertas Islands. During the studied period, management actions resulted in the reduction of 50% of the vessels operating in the harvesting of limpets and in slight recovery of the stocks of limpets. The economic impact of limpets gradually increased over the years, representing in 2017 96% of the economic value landed for molluscs and 2% of the total landings in this region. The present characterization provides a comprehensive outlook of the evolution of the marine gastropod harvest in the archipelago of Madeira and allows future comparisons with other regions where gastropods are commercially exploited.
Part of the book: Invertebrates