‘Disappointing this year,’ said Diego Crespo in 2008 in response to an inquiry as to how his almadraba was doing. We stood on the quay of the port of Barbate and watched the boats which had just returned from Zahara de los Atunes. Those asking the fishermen for figures kept on receiving gloomy answers. Around 1200 tonnes were caught in the four almadrabas on the south coast in the 2008 season. In 2007 that was still 1350 tonnes. Diego Crespo is the director of the almadraba of Zahara de los Atunes and also president of the association controlling the last working almadrabas on the Spanish south coast. ‘Of course,’ he says, ‘you never know with tuna. It swims closer to the coast 1 year than another. There are stronger and weaker year classes. The catch can depend on the clarity of the water, the temperature and the strength of the currents.’ But altogether the trend in catch figures was a source of worry a decade into the twenty-first century. Fewer and fewer bluefin tuna were swimming into the nets.
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