The Fishing Industry

Along with tourism and agriculture, fishing represented one of the three pillars of the islands economy.In fact, Lanzarote boasted the largest commercial fishing fleet in the entire Canarian archipelago. The fleet which sails from Las Palmas is slightly bigger, although its numbers are inflated by vessels from the Spanish mainland and Africa.As well as being the largest, the Lanzarote fleet can fairly claim to be the oldest in the Canaries. Historians believe that Lanzarotes Guanches used boats on in--shore fishing expeditions. The versatile indigenous natives set out in boats which they learned to build in the 14th and 15th centuries, copying the styles of pirate ships which frequently raided their coasts, and later the vessels of the conquistadores.Furthermore, since many islanders were taken to the mainland as slaves, on their return to the Canaries during the period of colonisation, they passed on their knowledge of fishing learned from watching Spanish fishermen.Over the years, Canarian skill and knowledge of the fishing industry has grown to reach its present day level of importance. Today, young men come from all over Spain to study at Arrecifes dockside Escuela de Pesca, the College of Fishing, learning the latest techniques of seafaring and deep--sea fishing.

A stroll down by the port of Arrecife can prove fascinating for the interested tourist, particularly for photographers. And theres always the chance of picking up a free bucket of sardines in the morning. Generous fishermen on the dockside quite willingly give sardines away to all--comers. But its advisable to take either a bucket or a plastic bag with you. And sure enough, youll receive your free bag of sardinas which make a delicious barbecued meal -- usually enough for six to eight people

A typical trip for the fishermen of Lanzarote, usually lasting around three weeks, begins before dawn. Fuel would already have been put on board the previous night. The early morning sees the loading of the ships supplies, mostly tinned food and some fruit. The men form a human chain, passing supplies on board. Despite the early hour and the prospect of hard work ahead, a good humoured atmosphere prevails with plenty of joking and ribbing among the men. The air is also filled with that special fishermans thrill of yet another new adventure on the ocean.As the food passes aft from hand to hand, it finally reaches the man with the least enviable job on board -- the ships cook. He has the unlucky task of attempting to keep the crew happy for the following three weeks, operating from a tiny, cramped galley, open to the elements on two sides.The final packages, passed to the ships cook, are placed in a specially reserved locker. These are the most precious of the expeditions supplies -- liquor and tobacco.The crew leap back on shore and collect their own kits which they stash in a tiny cabin next to the galley. Usually nine fishermen sleep in the cabin, which measures around nine feet square and contains three banks of triple bunks which is to become home for the next 20 days or so. The first mate is a little luckier. He shares a cabin with the captain.