At dawn, while seiners (or tarrafas) return to port after a night’s work, longliners, gill-netters and single-day fishing boats depart the harbour. The first to return do so in the afternoon, in time to sell the fish at the market. These boats are much smaller than the seiners, and weigh up to 50 tons.
The fishing gear used is different, and so are the catches. Single-day fishing boats use smaller gear like trap nets, trammel nets, pots and traps to capture white fish, crustaceans and cephalopods; longliners use plastic or rope long lines to catch hake and conger eel; gillnetters use gill nets to catch hake, while seiners use seine nets to catch mackerel, horse mackerel and sardine.
The biggest purse seine is 400 fathoms wide and 80 fathoms long (1 fathom = 6 feet); as tall as a 43-story building. Boats usually have 4 or 5 nets, with different sizes.
Monday to Friday at 5 pm, the fish sale takes places at the auction market. When it is finished, about 7 pm, the goose barnacle sale starts. You may go in but do not disturb the traders and buyers, known as ‘pescas’. The bid for the fishing catches of seiners or tarrafas is done with the help of monitors.
Prospective buyers gather around the batches of fish while the auctioneer, ‘sings’ the descending prices until someone claims the batch to the shout of ‘ ¡Mío! ‘ (mine). It all happens very fast.
Malpica Fishermen’s Association