The President of El Hierro, Tomas Padron, is not a happy man. The smallest of the 7 Canary Islands is a magnet for deep sea divers who love to explore the Mar de Las Calmas marine reserve, it’s one of the islands biggest tourist attractions. Iberia Airways have upset the President by charging up to 150 euros excess baggage to divers bringing their underwater gear on their flights.
The President points out that equipment for sports like golf and skiing usually receive special dispensation on flights, but the Iberia policy on diving gear means it is charged as excess if it goes over 20 kgs. The charges could have a damaging effect on El Hierro tourism, if no concessions are made.
El Hierro has built up a strong reputation for it’s preservation of fish, and has even produced an unlikely national hero in Pancho, the grouper fish, the star of the marine reserve. Pancho weighs in at 40 kgs and is 40 years old, and underwater photographers just can’t get enough of him. The fish is so revered that most restaurants on the island refuse to have grouper fish on their menu as a mark of respect.