Posted by: lasterrazasapartment | August 8, 2011

Fishing in the Mar Menor

Five were the main guts in the Mar Menor: Charco, Torre, Ventorrillo, El Estacio and Marchamalo. This way was the connection with the Mediterranean sea and the entrance to some energy – and restocking fish – from the “great sea” into a lagoon with levels of salinity reaching up to 52 0/00 in summer (14 more than Mediterranean waters in the same season).

Here the “encañizadas”, barricades from Moorish times were for many years the most peculiar feature of the fishing traditions in this area. In each gut or communication canal there was one of these inventions that was made with reeds, stakes and nets to trap fish in hides and tricks, which were pockets where they were kept and then pulled out alive (a procedure known as “defishing”) aided by flat boats called “planks” used by the young men as their access to land.

The “travesía” is a device or barrier made from net and reed that is attached between the end of the guts and makes the fish detour towards their rustic prison. The one from El Estacio got the highest number in mullet and sea bream captures. Marine fauna is also mysterious. Tiger prawns are caught using a special device for them (“langostinera”), which stands from the night before the day they are collected when they are still alive, and then transported to the market to be sold.

Another clever device to fish in the Mar Menor sea is to shoot nets perpendicularly to the coast and that end in a “moruna” (spiral net). When the fish find the barrier they follow it perpendicularly to the coast and then end up inside the spiral they will be eventually trapped in. Out of the five barricades used in the 60s, Torres and Ventorrillo belonged to the State, who used to let them at a public audition. Owners and tenants held the vast majority of the fishing areas – totalling 140 ships and some 800 men – and did not let the other modest fishermen of the lagoon capture near the main guts.

San Pedro del Pinatar is the place with the first and only Fishermen’s Association in the entire lagoon and the place where in 1918 the first fishermen’s cooperative was established .In 1983 the first Marine Assistantship and the Sailors Association were established in San Javier. Another particular feature of this place is the tradition to count in measures of “arrobas” 16 Kg. (30 lb), so the answer to the famous question “what did you get today?” that is often heard at the Lo Pagán pier, is not answered to in kilos but in this measurement.

Up until the year 1960 the most abundant species in the Mar Menor were the mullet (grey, golden, leaping grey and long-finned), sea bream, red mullet and slender. From 1967 to 1971 there was a clear abundance of eels, and although 1965, 66 and 67 were rough patches for tiger prawns, the truth is that the fishing and commercial boom of this crustacean did not take place until 1968.

Nowadays there is an abundance of eels and mullets, which does not mean that the anchovy, prawn, place, sea bream and red mullet have disappeared from this rich sea in salts and iodine. Amongst the algae we can often see the seahorse, which is well-known for having a different morphology to the rest of fish. Adults get hooked to the algae using their tail and the younger ones get stuck to the floating dead leafs. Needlefish, which are similar in their way of life and have a long and wavy shape, are hidden amongst the vegetation and sometimes acquire the appearance of the leafs of some algae.

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