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The capital of the fish
Rome - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - With a catch of almost 30 thousand tons a year, Mazara del Vallo is today the most important fishing port in Italy. Located on Sicily's western coast, it is the leading Italian region for fish production, regarding both values and volume. This sector provides work for more than 5,000 people, a fifth of which are North African immigrants. Situated on a coastal plain irrigated by two rivers, the port, right back to ancient times, has provided shelter for boats. With regard to fishing, the beginning of this activity dates back to 1920 with the introduction of motors which allowed the development of deep-sea fishing which is able to respond to market needs. In addition to traditional fishing for sardines and anchovies, the search then went on for other species. Today in Mazara del Vallo, fishing takes place with the use of the most widely known techniques: trawling, nets, deep-sea boulters, rods, creels. Fishing boats in operation number 340, of which 190 trawlers, 100 with fixed equipment and 50 for multi-purpose use.
At the end of the 70s, the continual increase in the fishing capacity of the Mazara fleet brought about an impoverishment of the resources. For this reason, in 1982 a law was established to govern the periodic identification of areas of biological stagnation to allow a replenishment of resources. A prohibition on fishing is also envisaged during specific periods and compensation has been set up by the Sicilian Region to be awarded to fishermen who can no longer carry out their fishing activities. The limits imposed due to the dwindling of resources has forced a number of Mazara fishing boats to abandon Italian territorial waters and move further out to North Africa, as well as to ocean waters. Today the fishing areas for the Mazara fleet are therefore extremely diversified: Ivory Coast, Togo, Senegal, for 15 vessels; the whole of the Mediterranean, beyond 40 miles, for 25 vessels, the areas surrounding Sicily, up to 40 miles, for 167 vessels, and the coastal areas, 133 vessels. Mazara's history goes back thousands of years and has always been strongly linked to the sea and its hidden resources. From its first beginnings as a trading emporium for Selinunte, Mazara has existed since ancient times as a safe haven for boats. Given its strategic geographical position it has experienced the passage of different populations which have left deep traces. Together with its maritime resources, in fact, are linked memories of the city as a port of call for the Phoenicians, a haven for ships from Selinunte and subsequently military positions during Roman times and an outpost for the Arab conquest of the whole island. The history of fishing began on the shores of the local river, the Mazaro, navigable for long tracts and rich with fish, which, thanks to the improvements carried out to the river itself then became suitable for fishing along the coast and the river, contributing to making the Mazarese men expert salt mine workers, tuna fishermen, fishers of sponge and coral, shrimps, cod, mullet and sole, as well as breeders of high-quality oysters.
Today, fish production in Mazara adds up to an overall figure of 100 million euro a year: more than 12 thousand tons of hake (Merluccius merluccius), almost 3 thousand tons of shrimps of different types, as well as catfish (Mullus surmuletus and Mullus barbatus), sole (Solea sp.), and squid (Loligo vulgaris e Illex coindetti).
While still maintaining its supremacy on a national scale, Mazara port is today experiencing the negative effects of imports and those resulting from the lack of a wholesale market able to absorb local production, a fact which is causing a number of operators to seek other marketing outlets for their products.
Area: Mazara del Vallo, Trapani province
Specialised production: fish and fish processing
Number of towns: 1
Surface area: 275 km2
Population: 52,000 inhabitants
Number of firms: 340