« 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.
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.
Coral fishing has ancient origins and in Sardinia it was initially practiced on the West coast by the Pisans in the XII-XIII century.
In the XXIII century we find the first traces of coral fishing by the Marseillese in the seas around Bosa and Alghero.
The Genoese also begin to fish
In 1354, the Catalans conquer the Genoese colony of Alghero, imposing their fishing rights from Capo Mannu to the Island of Asinara.
In addition to piracy, smuggling is also widespread. In 1539 numerous cases of coral are confiscated, then examined and sold at auction.
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.
The Region of Sardinia is the first to introduce regulations in the Mediterranean for coral fishing in the island's waters.
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