Secret Dalmatia Blog - Travel Experiences in Croatia

Traditional tuna fishing in Croatia

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Tuna fishing has a loong tradition in the Adriatic. It probably dates back to the Illyrian times and Greek colonization in the 5th century BC.
I recently purchased a lovely postcard from the early 20th century showing a traditional tunara or observation point in small town of Bakar near Rijeka.

Tunara in Bakar

Tunaras were used up to the quite recent dates and some of them are still standing. There is even an ancient tunara on the island of Pag but I still have to get there.

Tunara still standing (Wikipedia image)

Tuna fish was always one of the most important fish species in the Adriatic and the waters of our shores were always full of food for them. The Atlantic Bluefin is one of the dominant Tuna species and it is widespread in the entire Adriatic. Of course, not as much as it was before since the years of heavy fishing resulted in fish hardly reaching sizes/weight as it used to. Especially big were the fish caught near Šibenik so even it the 15th century local writer Šizgoric wrote how the fish caught in the St. Ante Channel near Šibenik were of monstrous proportions! It is even documented that the largest fish caught in the Adriatic was 850 Kg or 1873 lbs and that is nearly 400 lbs more than the one caught in 1979 and considered to be the biggest: http://www.bigmarinefish.com/photos_bluefin_tuna_pg4.html

Today, tuna is rarely fished with old methods and most of it is caught for farming. Even tuna farming is closely related to Dalmatia: the first farms were started by Croatians in Port Lincoln, Australia in the early ’90s. Later, they brought the method to their home town of Kali on Ugljan Island and that’s where the tuna farming in Croatia started.

Modern tuna fishing (Jadran Tuna image)

Tuna fishing is now spread on several locations in the Adriatic but catching tuna is not as easy as it used to be. The overfishing in the Mediterranean has nearly destroyed the population of the fish and tuna farms are taking in smaller and smaller fish which never reproduced.
Adriatic tuna is in high demand because of it’s distinct flavor but future generations my never taste this great fish.

Towing tuna fish cage (Jadran Tuna image)

Another popular form of fishing is Big Game and there is even an internationally recognized competition taking place each September/October in Jezera on Murter Island.
Quite popular due to good size fish caught here!

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