Almadraba in Andalusian Arabic means an exact place you get into or fight. It is one of the oldest and the most popular methods of mass hauling tuna, used in pre-Romanesque times, mainly in Italy, Morocco, Portugal and the southern Spain. From early spring to September, fishermen take advantage of the phenomenon of tuna migration which occurs near the coasts. They install huge net labyrinths, through which the fish swim to a place from which there is no way of escaping – between cutters prepared to cooperate, lowering the distance between themselves and beginning the bloody haul… I will not get into too much details. You know what harpoons, hooks and other fishermen tools are used for…
The biggest tuna specimens can be really huge and weight over 200 kg, and that is why it is very important that the haul is based on the mutual cooperation.
The whole phenomenon is a great opportunity for marine mammals to make a pile, such as dolphins and orcas which found the migration to be a perfect opportunity to obtain food easily. They rip off parts of caught tuna from hooks and harpoons boldly, and because of that, in the Strait of Gibraltar, they are viewed as pests. However, for marine mammal lovers, a sight of a large, black and white orca jumping out for the haul, may be quite a spectacle.
If you happen to visit southern parts of Andalusia during spring, make sure to choose a smaller town, such as Zahara de los Atunes (the name alone shows the importance of tuna to the local community), Barbate, Cadiz neighbourhood or Tarifa. For all of those, almadraba is an important part of the tradition and a great opportunity to make money for many people and companies involved in fishing, because the prices of tuna during the high season, of course, are the highest. In those towns, the best meals are the ones made from freshly caught fish, and Spanish cooks will not disappoint you for sure…