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    Freedom, passion and nature: a fishing afternoon in Marceddì

    The flock does not show itself with the flicker of a fish in the air. Even in the gray water moved by the Mistral wind Giovanni senses a movement, a whirlpool. He stops the boat where the Merceddì pond touches the gates of the bridge. Beyond the slits of the old structure the waves of the open sea beat insistently. "This point is good," says Giovanni. Then he raises from the bottom of the boat, a brand new and blue "ciu", the first head of the nets, tied to a float. The "Margiaga", crasis of Marica, Gianluca and Gabriele, names of Giovanni's sons, swiftly starts on the rough surface of the pond.

    With one hand Giovanni manages speed and direction, with the other he facilitates the unraveling of the large skein that occupies the center of the boat. The small circular floats that shore the wire of the net beat on the edge near the oarlock, fall into the water becoming the props of the large trap drawn in motion. A spiral, a large circumference and another spiral: "The fish will travel along the walls in search of a way out. Following them, they will end up in the first spiral, the narrow one". Once the second float is thrown into the water, Giovanni inserts the oars into the oarlocks and starts to traverse the empty spaces between one scroll and the other, to shake up the inertia of the fish.

    We left half an hour earlier from the boathouse which houses the boats of the Marceddì fishing consortium, that includes Giovanni's "Torre Vecchia" cooperative. A few meters from the "Terza Peschiera", connected by the bridge to the Sea Museum. Along the banks there are small piers, cluttered with nets, lobster pots and other equipment. There are thirteen members in the cooperative, 113 in the Consortium. Giovanni Spanu, 42, is a 12-year-old fisherman. In January he had to turn down the consortium presidency, forced by personal reasons. He remains member of the board. "I learned a lot, but there is still a lot to understand", he says. The engine of the Margiaga proceeds idly out of the spontaneous harbor, it must avoid shallows and rocks hidden under the cloudy surface. For fishermen, the compendium of Marceddì, San Giovanni and Corru S’ittiri is a map without mysteries. Each place is described by a name, each trait has a specificity.

    "Today we're going to do what we call a 'postura'," he explains, leaving the details to the impending experience. The postura is made between midnight and eight in the morning, when the stomach of the fish is clean. In a postura the nets can be launched ten, fifteen times. “It depends on many factors, wind, currents, temperatures, luck ... sometimes when sailing the first time you pull on two quintals. Sometimes for two weeks you go around the pond fishing only stones". The fact that the postura is illuminated only by a small torch tied to the forehead tells how much pond and fishermen become one with time.

    Plying along the coast we would soon arrive at the site where the mythical "Neapolis" described by Pliny and Ptolemy arose. “In February the consortium began cleaning the coast. We also continued during the quarantine, finding any possible object and material: tires, plastic, irons of all kinds. We are surrounded by a gold mine, and we can't understand it. Some time ago three French tourists, a man and two women armed with cameras saw me working on the nets on the pier. They insisted so much that to take them to photograph the swamp birds that I finally agreed. They could not believe their eyes. Of course, I didn't allow them to pay. But they gave me an idea. Eventually, as soon as all the documents are ready, I will start a small fishing-tourism activity here in Marceddì. We will go around the pond, tourists will participate in fishing. Then we will cook the catch in my house in the nearby countryside".

    One hundred meters away, peacefully opposed to the wind on a strip of sand, one senses the pink spot of flamingos. With the quarantine, the work has halved. No orders from restaurants, few from the fishmongers, rare those who went to the pier for direct purchase. "I also lost all the work done in schools, 90 children in three different kindergartens," says Giovanni, who dedicates one morning a week free of charge to his other great passion, the judo that made him a great agonist, teacher and traveler for European competitions.

    The time has come to set sail. We clumsily lend a hand, trying to keep the boat with the oar on the side most useful for collection. Murmurs, sea bream, mullet, cuttlefish, sea bass, sea bream and salpa, which John disembowels with his thumb and gives the seagulls, lightning fast in slingshot on the unexpected meal, and in gulping it with a quick neck’s movement. Salps always have dirty entrails, he explains. They are not marketable. Today, given the conditions, Giovanni has used the "japanes", the 9 nets. Usually he uses the 7 and 8 nets, with wider links: "I am opposed to tight links, they must be used with caution and only in certain periods. We must preserve the juveniles, for the sake of our work and the environment". The nets also delivers algae, jellyfish (it is necessary to turn around, even a drop of infected water on the face may require first aid), and fragments of "groga", the ficopomatus enigmaticus, a calcareous concretion formed by the accumulation of the external structures of larvae that proliferate in saline environments. A dangerous sign of the increase in the degree of salinity.

    There will be no other postures today, and the net will be put in order at the pier, on one side the floats, on the other the leads. “We certainly don't live in luxury, fishing is sometimes poor, sometimes it's rich. But when I get here I forget everything. Here I have no bosses, just a lot of effort, and a lot of satisfaction. Sometimes Gabriele, who is six years old, comes to keep me company. Maybe one day he will learn as I learned from Virgil, an old pond fisherman. Today he is over eighty years old. You could leave him anywhere on the open sea, it would come back without problems, rowing".

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