« En las marinas de Sardeña mucho coral en los mares de la ciudad de Bosa, Alguer, y Castell Aragones»

Martin Carrillo, 1612


Floating in the depths of our sea, the little red tree-like structures have been sought out by fishermen since ancient times.

Why? Because not only was it a lucrative source of income for the city of Alghero, but also because the unexplored world has long been an irresistible temptation for man.

We know that since prehistoric and protohistoric times, coral has been fished and used for cultural purposes in the Near East and western Mediterranean, as evidenced by the Nuragic votive vessels (navicelle votive nuragiche), similar to those of other coral-fishing communities.

Coral fishing has adapted over the centuries, and now greater attention is paid to the ecosystem and the marine world in general.

Red coral in the Nereo's grotto - photo by Marco Busdraghi
Red coral in the Nereo's grotto - photo by Marco Busdraghi

The first documented and documentable tool is the St Andrew's Cross, pulled by small sailing boats. Made up of two cross-shaped wooden planks, it was weighted down with stones at the ends of which nets were hung. With the advent of motor boats and the increase in fishing depth, the St Andrew's Cross proved ineffective and was perfected and replaced by the Ingegno with its iron axes.

Both of these gears involve trawling, where the coral is 'grabbed' and brought on board. The seabed is plowed indiscriminately, affecting and destroying the ecosystem. For this reason, fishing must now be carried out exclusively with the use of ice axes by fishermen equipped with individual underwater breathing apparatus.

  • XII-XIII century

    Coral fishing has ancient origins and in Sardinia it was initially practiced on the West coast by the Pisans in the XII-XIII century.

  • XIII century

    In the XXIII century we find the first traces of coral fishing by the Marseillese in the seas around Bosa and Alghero.

  • XIV century

    The Genoese also begin to fish

  • XV century

    In 1354, the Catalans conquer the Genoese colony of Alghero, imposing their fishing rights from Capo Mannu to the Island of Asinara.

  • 16th century

    In addition to piracy, smuggling is also widespread. In 1539 numerous cases of coral are confiscated, then examined and sold at auction.

  • XVIII century

    The fishing season in the XVIII is quite a long one: the first boats, coming from the Kingdom of Naples, arrive in the port on February 17th and remain there until the end of October.

  • 20th century

    The Region of Sardinia is the first to introduce regulations in the Mediterranean for coral fishing in the island's waters.

  • XXI century

    Regional Decree n ° 1229 of 3 April 2020

    Fishing: only professional fishermen with permits issued by the Region
    Period: from 1st June until 30th September
    Tool: ice axe
    Quantity: 2.5 kg per day maximum
    Permits: Maximum 25