Fishing for swordfish is a real hunt that takes place at sea and which sees the fishermen engaged in harpooning their prey.

There are historical sources that testify to swordfish fishing since the 2nd century BC.

Originally fishing took place on small boats, and the sighting of swordfish took place from cliffs or lookout points from the mainland, on the coast of Sicily or Calabria; the spotters signaled the movements of the prey by voice or by means of flags.

This fishing technique still takes place today in the Strait of Messina between May and August, the period of reproduction, when the specimens approach the coast. Fishing takes place on very large boats called “feluca“, which have on board a high sighting mast about 20 meters high (called “antenna“), from which the ntinneri (the spotter) directs the fishing operations.

Close to the feluca, on a smaller boat (luntro), a crew of fishermen follows the indications of the spotter and starts chasing the fish.

From the moment of sighting to the capture of the specimen, a real battle takes place.

The swordfish usually move in pairs (a male and a female), and fishing takes into account this peculiarity of the species. The first specimen to be hit is, in fact, the female, because she is bigger than her, but also because the male specimen always tries to defend his partner, following her. Once the female has been hit, it is therefore easier to be able to capture the male swordfish as well.

Alliata di Villafranca, F., La pesca del pescespada - in: Vie d'Italia, LVI, 901-908, 1950
Cinquegrani, N., Lu luntru e lu piscispada - Ed. Pubblisicula - Palermo, 1979
Collet, S., Il territorio, il ferro e la parte: la pesca del pescespada nello Stretto di Messina- in: La ricerca folklorica, 9, 113-119, 1984
Gamberini, E., Monografia marittima della Sicilia nord. orientale- Messina, 1918.
Gambi, L., La pesca del pesce spada nello stretto di Messina - in: Atti del XVI Congresso Geografico Italiano, 401-408, Faenza, 1953
Giacomarra, M., Dalla pesca del pescespada a Horcynus Orca - Bollettino dell'Atlante Linguistico Mediterraneo, 16-17-141, Palermo, 1974-1975
Giacomarra, M., I pescatori di pescespada - in: Le forme del lavoro: mestieri tradizionali in Sicilia - Ed. Libreria Dante, Palermo, 1990
Nobili, A.; Palmisano, M.E., La pesca del pescespada - in: Ippocampo: tecniche, strutture e ritualità della cultura del mare - Ed. Regione Siciliana, A.B.C.A. e P.I.- Dipartimento dei Beni Culturali ed Ambientali e dell'Educazione Permanente, Palermo, 2008

REI - Libro dei saperi - Pesca del Pesce Spada nello Stretto di Messina