With an estimated per capita consumption of fish more than twice the EU average, it is to be expected that seafood of all kinds bulks large in the Spanish diet, and this assumption is amply confirmed by a walk through a market or past local shops. Among the favourite fish dishes are cod (bacalao), hake (merluza), sole (lenguado), tuna (atún), swordfish (emperador) and red mullet (salmonete). Squid is particularly popular, in the form of calamares fritos, in which the bell is sliced into rings and deep-fried; small octupus (pulpo) lends itself to the same treatment. In addition, there is an enormous variety of shellfish and crustaceans, which are incorporated into traditional rice-based dishes like paella, used as an accompaniment to a main fish ingredient, as in Basque cooking, or served as tapas in bars. The main varieties are shrimp, prawn, crab, crayfish, lobster, mussel, clam, scallop and oyster.
   With Spain having the largest fishing fleet in the EU, fishing in coastal and deep waters is an important industry, but it still does not keep pace with domestic demand, and imports of fish and other seafood products account for nearly half of total consumption. In some areas of the peninsula, especially the north and northwest, harvesting of shellfish and crustaceans is still done by traditional methods, either by lowering crab- and lobster-pots from small boats, or, for rock-dwelling species, collecting by hand. More commonly, however, seafood products are farmed on an industrial scale. This can take the form of placing nets across areas of the seabed near the shore to prevent the crustaceans escaping to the open sea, though some losses occur during moulting, when the creatures shed their protective carapace, and can be attacked and eaten by their own kind. An alternative method, more suitable for calm estuaries and fresh water, is to use rafts with suspended cords to which molluscs can cling while they grow prior to harvesting.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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