We visited the Fisherman’s District in San Cristóbal, a point of reference which talks about our artisanal fishing history from Gran Canaria, the colorful buildings’ district next to the sea.
It has fishing traditions as a part of its soul and even its own name for its inhabitants, Chacalotes – since a 30 tons sperm whale was found dead after stranding in their coast in 1965.
Many generations have borned while listening the waves dragging the rocks to the sea, the ocean breeze and the fishing crafts in the old Ribera’s Carpentry Establishment, where Feliciano José Santana Ramos, a.k.a Nano works in the millennial tradition of seaside carpentry.
Today, this district maintains his own “salty” and navy nature… they are the artisans of the sea.
For this reason, Fishermen’s Cooperatives are an essential part of the fishing industry, where they spend their life to the sea and the surveillance of the industry.
In fact, Pescatobal’s Cooperative, is the oldest of the archipelago, founded in 1968.
During those times, they used to fish using El Chinchorro, an ancient fishing technique that consists in placing the fishing nets by little boats in the sea and dragging them to the coast for hours “that was a show, we even stopped the traffic for hours to drag all those nets” -they remember.
After this technique was prohibited, many fishermen focused their own practises in those which were allowed La Traiña or the Art Salemero, Carzonal and Pots, at the end, they only could fish using pots.
Nowadays, the fleet of this district is formed by little boats which are still using traditional fishing arts with a low/moderate ecological impact and with quick fishing sessions so the captures can be served fresh in the fish auction.
The fishing industry provides direct employment in the whole Canary Islands to more than 1.700 people.
Although belonging to any fishermen’s cooperative or fraternities is not an obligatory requirement to work in the sea, a huge amount of professionals are associated into this foundations due to the benefits and the administrative security services given by these organisations.
Nobody treats the sea better than them!
They are wonderful people which build a promising future day to day taking care and respecting the sea.
Any animal which could be in danger, sick or trapped can be saved by them and brought to the coast to be cured by professionals. They save shearwaters, turtles and gannets.
We are happy to feel the commitment of these professional fishermen, they explain that “there’s a huge list of young people that sign up to this ancestral sector currently”. There’s not doubt, young people are an important pillar to perpetuate and to modernize the industry.
These cooperatives rely on 16 boats, 14 shipowners, 16 ship’s masters and 43 sailors, around 30 members, all of them currently working.
“Nowadays, there are no fisherwomen- says Loli Guedes, Administrative Chief of PESCATOBAL”. She is responsible for working with them directly – some years ago, we could see some boats with many sailor women working in the sea, but now all of them are retired. Women are related with market and administration activities.
It would be great to have a generational replacement!
Loli Guedes is a tireless worker, she weighs the fish and she does any administrative functions not only for the Cooperative but for every fisherman signed on it.
Respect and friendship can be breathed in the air, surely because this job is quite hard and complicated where the partnership is the sharing flag to everyone.
Because of this living history of San Cristobal, it is our duty to help and support the local and regional industry, from our city to our whole island.
We must help each other, helping our fishermen and to include their fresh products in our kitchens, restaurants and markets.
Consuming first sale’s fish is a guarantee of ecological sustainability and health security.
“Sustainable economy is that which lasts throughout time” says Loli Guedes.