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Tonnare in Italy: Science, History and Culture of Sardinian Tuna Fishing


Through a case study of a Sardinian tonnara, this article provides an interdisciplinary look at the science, culture, and history of fishing in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Sea and the crystalline waters of Sardinia, in particular, are currently confronting a paradox of marine preservation. On the one hand, Italian coastal resources are prized nationally and internationally for their natural beauty as well as economic and recreational uses. On the other hand, deep-seated Italian cultural values and traditions, such as the desire for high-quality fresh fish in local cuisines and the continuity of ancient fishing communities, as well as the demands of tourist and real-estate industries, are contributing to the destruction of marine ecosystems. The synthesis presented here offers a unique perspective combining historical, scientific, and cultural factors important to one Sardinian tonnara in the context of a larger global debate about Atlantic bluefin tuna conservation.

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