Fishing in the Adriatic

Italy | Abruzzo | Francavilla al Mare, Chieti

Nunziato has been fishing in the Adriatic Sea since he was 13 years old.The son and grandson of fishermen, Donato Nunziato has been catching fish since the age of 13. When he was young, he would go fishing in the morning before going to school. “The sea is my great love,” he says.

Nunziato loves fishing and life in the middle of the sea. He loves the way the sea calms him and the fact that no-one bosses him around. He says that without a strong passion it would be impossible to do this job. It doesn’t pay very well and there are plenty of difficulties, though he says that compared to when his father was working, things are much easier. “My children?” he says, breaking into a loud laugh. “They don’t want to know how to be a fisherman. They don’t have the passion for the sea.” He sounds a bit sorry, but reading between the lines it’s clear he’s also relieved.

He describes his typical working rhythm: “I go out at 4 pm to set the nets out in the sea. I do two or three kilometers in about an hour and a half and then I go back to the shore. The next morning at 4.30 I pull the nets in.” Back at home, his wife and his mother help him sell his catch from a stall on the side of the street. “We don’t sell fresh fish, we sell live fish,” he says.

Along with 22 other fishermen Nunziato belongs to a fishing cooperative in Francavilla, La Piccola Pesca Serena. They practice traditional, sustainable fishing methods, using wide-meshed nets. The fishermen mostly catch sole, as well as slipper lobsters, mantis shrimp, horse mackerel and cuttlefish. “Everyone here wants sole. Few customers ask to try lesser-used fish like mackerel and horse mackerel. ‘Poor’ fish are good for you and cost much less.” He says the cooperative also opened a center for packaging and selling sea snails, but in a twist of fate all the snails have disappeared since they opened.

One of the big problems over the last ten years in this area have been dolphins, which are especially fond of sole. Ultrasounds with a range of 250 meters can be used to tackle the problem, and the fishermen are seeking funding from the regional authority for the equipment.

“The Adriatic is a very small sea, but despite this the authorities have allowed the use of big American trawls in recent years. Now they’ve realized the big environmental impact of this kind of fishing, which turns our seas into deserts. There are many more fishing boats with very powerful motors, which waste a lot of fuel as well as polluting and spoiling our sea. And they catch so much fish, they make the prices fall,” says Nunziato.

“I think that they should increase controls and stop the use of these big American nets once and for all. They should move fishing boats to four or five miles off the coast to extend the protected band and leave an area for repopulation.”


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