Imraguen Women’s Mullet Bottarga

Mauritania

Dakhlet Nouâdhibou

Fish, sea food and fish products

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Imraguen Women’s Mullet Bottarga

Small-scale fishing in Mauritania is threatened by a perverse system: industrial fleets, mostly foreign, are plundering its fish-rich waters, causing serious problems for local communities. In 2006 Mauritania sold fishing rights to the European Union in exchange for a reduction in its public debt, giving up the fight against overfishing and encouraging a new form of colonialism. The industrial fishing boats hire and fund the local fishermen and the fish is frozen and taken to North Africa or Europe for processing. The damage has been enormous. Almost 50% of mullet stocks are at risk and the fish-processing activities, including bottarga production, traditionally practiced by the Imraguen women have been abandoned.
Few are able to continue making a living. The local NGO Mauritanie 2000 is working with groups of women to try to preserve local knowledge, strengthen their technical skills and improve hygiene conditions. The producers buy mullet from fishermen, extract the eggs, rinse them, salt them and let them dry naturally, obtaining a traditional bottarga (from the Arab butarikh, salted fish eggs). The women also prepare tishtar (dried and finely chopped mullet fillet) and mullet oil.

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Slow Food, in collaboration with the producers of the Ortebello Bottarga Presidium (Tuscany), has helped the Imraguen women improve production, directly manage the sale of their products and fi nd alternative markets. In 2006, three women visited Orbetello for a training course, while some Italian fi shermen went to Nouadhibou to help set up a small workshop. Thanks to the projects supported by the Piedmont Regional Authority and the City of Tours, the women have acquired a vacuum packing machine and a refrigerated room for storing the bottarga. A good practice guide for processing mullet has now been produced in Arabic and French. To make this mullet bottarga 100% local only one other ingredient was needed: salt. In 2014, with support from the EU Commission, a project to create a local salt works was launched in collaboration with the French association Univers
Sel, in which 36 producers, mainly women, started to produce high-quality sea salt on the Baie de l’Etoile in Nouadhibou, who sell the salt to bottarga producers.

Production area
Nouadhibou and Nouakchott

Project partner
Mauritanie 2000

Technical partner
Orbetello Fishermen (Slow Food Presidium)
280 women (mostly Imraguen) organized in three groups who work with the NGO Mauritanie 2000
Presidium coordinator
Nedwa Moctar Nech
tel. + 222 22306973/36306973
nedwa.nech@gmail.com
Slow Food, in collaboration with the producers of the Ortebello Bottarga Presidium (Tuscany), has helped the Imraguen women improve production, directly manage the sale of their products and fi nd alternative markets. In 2006, three women visited Orbetello for a training course, while some Italian fi shermen went to Nouadhibou to help set up a small workshop. Thanks to the projects supported by the Piedmont Regional Authority and the City of Tours, the women have acquired a vacuum packing machine and a refrigerated room for storing the bottarga. A good practice guide for processing mullet has now been produced in Arabic and French. To make this mullet bottarga 100% local only one other ingredient was needed: salt. In 2014, with support from the EU Commission, a project to create a local salt works was launched in collaboration with the French association Univers
Sel, in which 36 producers, mainly women, started to produce high-quality sea salt on the Baie de l’Etoile in Nouadhibou, who sell the salt to bottarga producers.

Production area
Nouadhibou and Nouakchott

Project partner
Mauritanie 2000

Technical partner
Orbetello Fishermen (Slow Food Presidium)
280 women (mostly Imraguen) organized in three groups who work with the NGO Mauritanie 2000
Presidium coordinator
Nedwa Moctar Nech
tel. + 222 22306973/36306973
nedwa.nech@gmail.com

Territory

StateMauritania
RegionDakhlet Nouâdhibou