Although there is evidence linking fishing activity to the Upper Palaeolithic around 18,000 B.C. the latest finds in Israel have led to the realization that Homo erectus, the ancestor of modern man (Homo sapiens sapiens), must have fed on cooked fish 800,000 years ago! This shows very clearly how the inhabitants of our planet have always depended on fish. The importance of its role in the food supply of millions of people is shown by the fact that the first settlements of today’s large cities were built by prehistoric people close to the water, since access to fish was essential for survival. The combination of proteins and other nutrients that it provides can hardly be surpassed by any other food.

This ancient tradition of fishing is also anchored in the blood of the people of the Mediterranean. In ancient times, however, fishermen were among the poorest of the population. They mainly ate pickled and salted fish such as mackerel, anchovies and sardines. Only economically better off classes could afford fresh fish. As a sign of prosperity and abundance, fish were, therefore, often depicted on clay and metal vessels and on mosaics. Fish mosaics are often found in dining rooms to indicate a richly laid table.

The Christians even elevated the fish to a symbol of their faith community. As an acronym they used the Greek word for fish, ichthys. It stands for Iesous Christós Theoú Hyiós Sõtér (Jesus Christ, God’s Son and Savior). The four main fishing techniques used by fishermen were nets, sticks, pots and hooks. Over the centuries, people have developed a variety of local fishing techniques, often based on a combination of centuries-old practices and modern methods, to better meet the growing demand. The traditional method is still go out alone or with others in a boat, using nets and lines manually. 

Read the full article in Issue 25

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