Tuna fishing


Since the 70s of the last century Cetara has also gained notoriety for fishing for Mediterranean bluefin tuna. Already home of a tuna trap until the mid-1930s, its fleet, one of  the largest in Italy and Europe, continues to fish the valuable product and to use it mainly for export to Asian markets. This has not prevented the use of the product in numerous recipes that have marked the strong enhancement of the “sea pig” in the kitchen. Cetaresi, for some centuries and until 1934, have fished for tuna with a fixed net, located in Erchie, west of Cetara. It was a complex-structured network that was lowered in April and raised in September. This trap drew a kind of giant T and the tuna entered through two corridors, two doors that allowed the entry of fish, but prevented the exit. The tuna, through two corridors, passing ” ‘e vocche ‘e puorte”, two doors that allowed entry but prevented the exit, headed into the room and, after a variable time, entered the lever. This, supported to the west by a vessel (caparràise), on the indication of the “guard” that controlled the position of the cetaceans, was closed to the east by lifting a door operated by 10 fishermen from another boat, “‘o sciere”,  pulled as many ropes said “navèlle”. As the two “viénte”, or sciere, were approached to ‘or caparaise, the eastern end of the lever, first pulled up, was left to slide back to the bottom. The tuna, now trapped in a confined space, could then be easily hoisted on board. A huge amount of cork supported the whole net, which, except the lever, was anchored to the bottom by large “màzzare”. La stabilità della leva era assicurata da quattro enormi macigni detti “muntagne” legati, due per ciascun lato, alla strada e chiamati rispettivamente “mascaràte” e “pezziente”. Thirteen “crosses”, a series of ropes placed perpendicular to the cora, garnished with cork and fixed with màzzare at the bottom, served to counteract the strong currents and prevent the displacement of the “peràle”.

The caporraise was anchored to six large bars, tied to the outer wall, while the chamber, resting on a muddy bottom, was fixed, to the east, by six anchors of a ton each; the inner wall of the boat welcomed the western end of the lever. The foreman, standing on a boat with four oars, tied to ‘o mazzare r’o singhe, coordinated all the operations, of which the most dangerous and delicate was certainly represented by the positioning of the “muntagne”. All the preparation and setting-up of the nets was carried out on the beach of Erchie. In order to manage all these operations, some families of Cetara moved to Erchie for the fishing months. At the end of the season “la tagliata r’a tunnara”: floats, anchors and some hemp tops were recovered. The net, made of hemp and sparto (a grass with leathery leaves, up to sixty centimeters long, suitable for the preparation of twine)during the stay in the sea, molluscs and algae took root, making recovery not easy The net remained on the bottom and being formed of vegetable fiber, in a short time, it broke down and became food for fish.

Back in the ’70s, Cetares begin to fish for tuna with large vessels ranging in size from 250 to 435 tonnes. The ancient techniques of anchovy fishing with purse seines are adapted to tuna fishing. Fish are no longer expected to fish for earth, but the modern boats go to look for the schools of tuna in the high seas in the Tyrrhenian Sea, but also in the Adriatic and in the southern Mediterranean.

The maximum of the Cetara fleet was reached at the beginning of the years behind 1980 when it reached the record of 22 vessels. Today there are only a few offshore boats, with deep holds, watchtowers, electric cranes to lift the nets easily. However, the fleet tuna Cetara along with that Salerno is second only to the powerful Japanese ships for tonnage and quantity of fish caught. A plane often accompanied the traps to facilitate the sighting of the schools of tunas, but currently this aid from above is forbidden by the new European regulations. Once arrived on the shoal f fish, the purse seines are lowered, which trap them in a cylinder that slowly tightens.