360° video: This ancient technique is the most sustainable way to catch tuna fish

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By Ole Krogsgaard  & Daniel González Acuña
360° video: This ancient technique is the most sustainable way to catch tuna fish

A 3,000-year-old technique has been heralded by the European Union as the most sustainable way to catch Bluefin tuna.

In the video above, you can watch how the so-called almadraba technique in action.

It sees fishermen use an elaborate kilometre-long network of fishnets to trap the tuna fish as they migrate from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea during spawning season. The fishnets guide the tuna into a confined space, the copo, where divers can kill the fish.

The method is lauded because the mesh size of the fishnet is so large that only tuna weighing 200kg or more are caught.

If tuna fish experience stress they secrete a lactic acid that deteriorates the quality of the meat. Therefore, divers have to kill the tuna quickly using a bang stick. On deck, fishermen make sure that the animal is completely dead before they are placed in the ship’s hold, filled with ice and water.

The fish has to be frozen to -60℃ as quickly as possible to avoid rigor mortis, so as soon as a ship is full, it returns to the port.

The roots of almadraba can be traced back to Phoenician civilisation in modern-day Lebanon. Today, it is not very widespread, as it is difficult and less cost-effective than other methods. Scientists of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas have calculated that only the 0.1 % of migrating tunas to the Mediterranean Sea are captured using this technology.