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Tonnarella di Camogli

The fishing net “Tonnarella”, today as hundred years ago is still sew and laid down on the dyke that shelters Camogli’ s harbour.
It is lowered in the same spot of the coast in between Camogli and Punta Chiappa.
From its origin has always been knit by hand and the knitting are made with coconut fiber,
that do not only get wet from the seawater, but also from the sweat of the anglers.
Therefore, everything is still the same, the movements as well as the fishing technique.
Every movement is repeated by the crew and mastered by the “rais”; a jump back in time,
old as the sea depth beneath it; one of the few spots completely unpolluted part of the Marine Protected Area.

The history

It exists proof of its existence from the 1600. The first news of Camogli’s Tonnarella come from 1603.
The Tonnarella is different from the classical “Tonnara” because the “mattanza” (way of fishing) does not happen,
and the catch is not limited to the fishing of the “fish on the run”.
From researches and studies has emerged that the tonnara was already functioning from 1300 on the Portofino Coast.

The fishing

Camogli’s Tonnarella strategic location, like the few others tonnare still present in Italy, comes from ancient studies on the habits of tuna.
Tuna enters from Gibraltar Strait in spring, and follows the warmer superficial streams, essential for the reproduction and to find its way back in fall.

Following this path, it stays close to the coastline.
From studies it emerged that it swims with the coast on its left side and it keeps only one eye open.
As it follows the coast line only with its left eye open, it is misled from the barrier created by “pedal”
(the net that is anchored to the sea depth) that leads it inside the Tonnarella.
Now, it is less common to catch great red tunas; normally fishermen catch skipjacks, bonitos, and in the migration period mostly yellowtails,
leer fishes, swordfishes, moonfishes, which are very common now in the Portofino sea.

The diving

In a very few minutes of navigation, it is possible to reach the site of diving of Tonnarella, just after exiting Camogli’s harbour.
As it is a sheltered spot, it is almost always possible to dive in there.
The only exception is when Libeccio (wind from Sud-West) blows.
Once in the right spot, B&B Diving Center boat, will anchor, next to the net, on its external side and when the Rais (Chief of Crew) allows it,
the guide enters the first gathering chamber to check if there are the right and safe condition for submerging.
The diving takes place during the act of pulling back the net; so, after a certain amount of time, it is necessary to exit the chamber to see the end of the fishing.

Thanks to Adriano Penco for the pictures

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