On-board Diary: Fishing Nets for purseiners and bottom trammel

Author: Keith Ellenbogen
Date: July 21, 2008



With mooring lines securely fastened to the bollard, the Oceana Marviva Med was docked in the Sicilian Harbor of Porto Di Messina, Banchina G. Marconi. From the ‘porto’ our expedition team of Maria Jose Cornax, Gorka Leclercq, and Keith Ellenbogen departed in a rental car, driving north, along the coast of Sicily to photograph fishing boats armed with driftnets in Catania, Santa Maria la Scala, Stazzo, Riposto, and Giardini – Naxos.

In all these ports we observed piles and piles of fishing nets stacked adjacent to the fishing boats — that at times were so high they blocked the view of the boats. Some of the nets were neatly stacked; others were carelessly tossed on the ground or meticulously covered by tarps. These nets are made from non-organic nylon multifilament. However, there are organic options that use silk or wool. The nets we observed were used by both purseiners, bottom trammel netters, and ferratare for small pelagic fish. We did not see any net used for swordfish or tuna.

In Italy, as part of a tradition the fisherman ‘die’ the color of the fishing nets from their original green color to red, black, orange or brown. The only explanation I can think of is — perhaps the dark colors blend into the water and yield more fish. Or dark reddish color conceals the stains of blood and dead fish when the nets are brought back on the boat. Either way there is an ironic beauty in the color, texture and pattern of these fishing nets.