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This artide focuses on the time-honoured tuna fìshery ofFavig-              power of blood. Tension builds when both fishermen and tourists
                 nana (Sicily) and especially its concluding ritual of the mattanza; the         await the arrivai of the tuna and upon the catharsis of gaffìng the fìsh
                 killing of the tuna. The fìshery is in serious decline mainly due to            there is  an excited, even phrantic atmosphere.  Before going into
                 over-fìshing by foreign commerciai fleets, but the local tuna fìsher-           these matters, I shall first briefly deal with the present state of tuna
                 men srubbornly hold on to their tradition, despite all odds. They               fisheries and the history,  technique and social organisation of the
                 have rime and again recreated the fìshery in an attempt at economie,            mattanza.
                 social and cultural survival. When I recently read Theresa Maggio's
                 fascinating book Mattanza (Maggio 2000), I was captivated by the                Trapping the 'Pig of the Sea'
                 steadfasrness with which the Favignanese tuna fìshermen attempt to
                 continue the ritual. With my curiosity aroused, I decided to conduct                Bluefin tuna (thunnus  thynnus L.) migrate in schools from  the
                 more systematic research into the literature on the mattanza, the con-          North Atlantic to the Mediterranean in May to spawn and they fol-
                 tents of several relevant websites and audiovisual material. The pres-          low more or less  fixed  migration routes,  making  the fìsh  a  pre-
                 ent artide is  the  result  of these  inquiries  and  attempts  to  piece       dictable target for local fìshermen. They can live for more than thirty
                 together  the  bits  of information  I  gleaned  from  this  variety  of        years,  reach over three meters in length and large specimens can
                 sources.  It seeks to understand why the mattanza is so important to            weigh as much as 650 kilos or even more. They are top predators that
                 the Favignanesi and how the ritual changed following the economie               feed on fìsh, squids and crustaceans. Throughout the Mediterranean,
                 decline of the tuna fìshery.  It is presently identity matters  being           bluefin tuna have been caught in abundance for many cenruries us-
                 aware of who they are as tuna fìshermen - that exceeds the economie             ing large trap nets or tonnara (Pitcher 2001). Dubbed 'pig of the sea'
                 importance of the mattanza by far.  By performing the mattanza, the             for its versatility on the table, tuna was salted, pickled and turned
                 Favignanesi recreate their sense of selves.                                     into almost as many sausage products as pork itself. From an early
                     However, in search of authenticiry, tourists have also discovered           stage onward, salted tuna became an important export product. Of-
                 the ritual and flock to the island in large numbers to watch the spec-          ten, saltpans and tuna traps were constructed in each other's vicinity.
                 tacle. Though this tourist gaze reinforces the fìshermen's self-aware-          The tuna fìshery brought wealth to many Mediterranean communi-
                 ness, it has also led to protests against the mattanza as  being little         ties and '[s}overeigns at times demonstrated their largesse- in return
                 more than a tourist show like the Spanish bullfight. Both fascination           for appropriate services - by granting prominent families exclusive
                 and disgust would seem to be inextricably linked wìth the symbolic              rights to the ownership and operation of certain tuna traps' (Roesti
                                                                                                    A considerable expansion of this tra p fìshing technique occurred
                     2  Theresa Maggio's popular book Mattanza: Love and Death in the Sea of     in the 1800s as a result of the invention of canning. But increasing
                 Sicily (2000) has made the ritual world-famous and will be used here as an im-  catches brought about a depletion of tuna stocks (Pitcher 2001:603).
                 portant source of information. Though not a scholarly work, i t contains exten-  Once a common tuna fìshing method, tuna traps have gradually al-
                 sive descriptions of rhe mattanza. For anthropological accounts, see Collet    most completely disappeared from the Mediterranean coasts due to
                 (1987) and Singer (1999). Fora brief overview and compelling photographs,
                                                                                                dwindling catches. In Sicily alone, some eighty tuna traps were stili
                 see Stabile and Martorana (1999). For ethnographic films, see Singer (1997)    used in the early 20'h century. But today, this passive method with
                 and Hope (2002).
                                                                                                fìxed gear survives in less than a handful of places. Since the demand
                     3  Doing ethnographic research on the digital highway can of course never   for  bluefin tuna has  increased  in world  markets,  they  have  been
                 replace conducting actual anthropological fieldwork. There are many puzzles
                                                                                                hunted relentlessly with modern fìshing techniques such as  long-
                 and questions that remain unsolved, and that would require a prolonged stay
                                                                                                lines and purse seines.  Helicopters and small airplanes are used to
                 nn Rm1 an"n" ro oh~PrvP a nel  interview the fishermen.
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