Preserved Tuna and Almadraba Roe from Barbate (Cádiz)

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Red tuna is caught using the almadraba trap system when it travels through the Straits of Gibraltar on its migratory route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, where it lays eggs in warm water. Almadraba fishing consists of a series of nets anchored on the seabed. The fixed shore net (rabera de tierra) directs the tuna into the frame. Fish enter through the mouth and cannot leave, because two retaining nets (endiches, more specifically the legítima and contralegítima) prevent them. If they manage to avoid them, they come up against the outside line (rabera de fuera), which forces them in the frame. This is the central part of the almadraba system and it is divided into four sections: cámara, buche, bordonal and copo. The tunas pass from one to the other until they reach the copo, which can be raised. This is therefore traditional and selective fishing which catches individual adult fish. This tuna is a traditional product of the Straits of Gibraltar (towns of Conil, Barbate, Zahara and Tarifa), where it has been existing since Phoenician times. There are many references to salting of tuna from Roman times, with portrayals on coins from Gades (Cadiz) dating back to the Third Century BC. It is also mentioned by Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, in “The Illustrious Kitchen Maid.” The Almadrabas of Cadiz (Barbate, Conil, Zahara de los Atunes and Tarifa) are the only ones left in Spain. The whole process, from fishing to preserving the product, is carried out in these localities, particularly Barbate. Unfortunately, the activity has become less profitable and endangered because of over-fishing.

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