On-board Diary: From Ostia to Ponza along the thousand-metre line

Author: Eduardo de Ana
Date: June 7, 2006



We set off from Ostia in the early morning, after having a shower and filling our tanks.

Heading south, to the Island of Ponza, sailing along the line of one thousand metres’ depth, which is where the fishermen put out their driftnets at the end of the day and pull then in a little before dawn. This timetable permits us to document the entire process by video and photograph as, although the light is not ideal, it is sufficient for us to be able to take some photographs and film clearly, for example, how they catch a fish that is sadly trapped in this blanket of death.

Driftnets, as we have explained in other sections of this same website, are nets of up to 20 kilometres’ length and some thirty metres in height, which are kept on the surface by means of floats (cork or similar) and ballast at the bottom of the net. They have a very large mesh size so that the fins and tails of fish will become trapped. That is how the fish are caught.

They are used to fish for tunidae and related species: tuna, bonito, swordfish … and in other regions of the world for cephalopods and salmon, although in the Mediterranean area they are fundamentally used for fishing for swordfish.

They are mainly used in the Western Mediterranean, in particular in the Ligurian Sea, the Tyrrhenian Sea, the north of Sicily, the south and east of Sardinia, and even in the area of the Balearic Islands, where young sperm whales have appeared recently trapped in driftnets.

The conditions of the sea mean that it is not possible for the boats to be out fishing, which means that without leaving the 1000 metre line, we shall reach Ponza tomorrow at midday.
We set off from Ostia in the early morning, after having a shower and filling our tanks.

Heading south, to the Island of Ponza, sailing along the line of one thousand metres’ depth, which is where the fishermen put out their driftnets at the end of the day and pull then in a little before dawn. This timetable permits us to document the entire process by video and photograph as, although the light is not ideal, it is sufficient for us to be able to take some photographs and film clearly, for example, how they catch a fish that is sadly trapped in this blanket of death.

Driftnets, as we have explained in other sections of this same website, are nets of up to 20 kilometres’ length and some thirty metres in height, which are kept on the surface by means of floats (cork or similar) and ballast at the bottom of the net. They have a very large mesh size so that the fins and tails of fish will become trapped. That is how the fish are caught.

They are used to fish for tunidae and related species: tuna, bonito, swordfish … and in other regions of the world for cephalopods and salmon, although in the Mediterranean area they are fundamentally used for fishing for swordfish.

They are mainly used in the Western Mediterranean, in particular in the Ligurian Sea, the Tyrrhenian Sea, the north of Sicily, the south and east of Sardinia, and even in the area of the Balearic Islands, where young sperm whales have appeared recently trapped in driftnets.

The conditions of the sea mean that it is not possible for the boats to be out fishing, which means that without leaving the 1000 metre line, we shall reach Ponza tomorrow at midday.