This Arabic word almadraba means place where you hit or fight. In fact, this fishing art is compared with the bullfighting, but under the water.
Every year from May to June, fishermen from Cadiz province set up a complicated labyrinth of nets to catch blue-fin tuna. This ingenious system of the nets called almadraba is built in the section of the sea, close to the Strait of Gibraltar, where tuna pass on their way to Mediterranean, migrating to warmer water.
The tuna swim through different parts of the nets until they’re caught in a central area, encircled by a ring of boats. The net is then lifted. This moment is called levantá- the raising.
Almadraba is a perfect example of sustainable fishing Invented by the Phoenicians 3000 years ago which is still practiced in Cadiz province today. Only the tuna is caught, no other fish, and only the biggest of them are kept; the others are returned to the ocean. There is no waste, and no over-fishing. There’s a strict quota and it’s not in the interests of the fishermen to exceed it.
It is very interesting to witness not only the fishing but also ronqueo – the filleting of tuna, as the noise of the meat being taken off the bones sounds like snoring.
Known as atun rojo, blue-fin tuna is highly prized and is not cheap: around 25€/kilo for the basic cuts, rising to nearly 40€/kilo for the prized belly. The Japanese export 80% of it to make sushi and sashimi. In Spain it is eaten cooked or raw as tuna tartare, since its superb flavour and texture means it is best appreciated without cooking.
Lovers of tuna come from all over Spain and from abroad to enjoy the various festivals and routes celebrating the almadraba season. Many restaurants and tapas bars offer then inventive, beautifully-presented atun de almadraba tapas and maps are available to show you where participating restaurants are.