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Fishing boat holidays in Greece

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Fancy a fishing boat holiday in Greece? The prospect has come closer thanks to a relaxation of laws to allow Greek fishermen to use their vessels for tourist trips.

Under new laws, Greek fishermen holding a special license and a sailboat up to 15 metres long can now take up to a dozen passengers on short boat trips.

It opens up the growing tourist market for active adventure holidays and gives the owners of small Greek boats the chance to earn some extra cash.

Hundreds of fishermen are believed to have applied for the special licenses which could help them tap the growing interest in fishing holidays and sports fishing tourism.

Small painted fishing boats bobbing in the harbour is a familiar sight for holiday visitors to most Greek islands.

The boats usually sail out early morning or late evening for fishermen to bring in the daily catch and may spend most of the day tied up to the harbour wall.

Brightly painted and beautifully kept they may get the tourist cameras snapping, but they do nothing for the fisherman's meagre income while they are not at sea.

Now all that may change as fishermen not only offer to take tourists on their own fishing trips to experience the life of a fisherman but they can hire out rods or offer day trips to nearby islets with a spot of fishing thrown in.

Tourists could even catch their own lunches and cook them on a barbecue at some remote and idyllic cove off the beaten tourist trail.

If might also help curb the trend to destroy small fishing boats as part of an EU compensation scheme designed to give cash aid to fishermen who retire.

As part of the deal, retiring Greek fishermen are told to destroy their small boats so they cannot be used again. It has resulted in an estimated 5,000 boats being broken up.

The scheme had cultural activists up in arms. The Cultural Association of Traditional Greek Boats deplored the loss of the cultural heritage as traditional painted wooden boats were replaced with unattractive mass-produced glass fibre hulls.

Many fishermen, struggling in the hard-pressed economic climate, have abandoned fishing and turned to farming. The cash compensation for destroying their boats has been too much to resist.

Now the lure of tourist cash could help fishermen stay in the industry, improve their chances of making a living and help protect the traditional boats that help make Greek island holidays so special.

The Greek Rural Development Ministry hopes the decision will offer an incentive to fishermen to work together for the promotion of their traditional profession as well as opening the way to provide boat trips and other leisure activities.