The common-or-garden sardine, a trademark of the road events that happen throughout Portugal in summer time, accounts for two-thirds of the nation’s fish catch and has spawned an necessary canning trade.
“The place there are sardines, there are folks, beer, pals and a way of neighborhood. Sardines convey folks collectively,” mentioned Goncalo Ortega, 27, at a avenue social gathering on the Sardine Competition in Lisbon.
Nearly each city and village has its personal summer time festivities with open-air dancing and naturally the scent of sardines being grilled on the outside barbecue.
“The sardine is the commonest and customary fish alongside the Portuguese coast. It’s a crucial a part of folks’s eating regimen, not solely in fishing villages but additionally in giant city facilities,” explains Alvaro Garrido, an skilled within the financial historical past of the fishing sector.
“On this sense, sardine fishing is of nice social significance, much more than Portugal’s iconic salt cod.”
The Portuguese eat extra fish than every other nation within the 27 member states of the European Union. A lot of the fish is imported, particularly the salt cod, which is so distinguished within the nation’s conventional delicacies, however is definitely fished in additional northern waters.
“Portugal has a continual commerce deficit in fish merchandise because of the import of salt cod. That’s considerably offset by canned sardine exports,” Garrido mentioned.
“Sardine fishing is particular as a result of it’s a custom. Everybody loves sardines, particularly the nice high quality ones,” mentioned Agonia Torrao, 51, a fishing boat captain within the port of Peniche on Portugal’s central Atlantic coast.
“You’ll find giant numbers of sardines alongside our coasts. That is why we fish for them.”
Regardless of its historic significance and the place of honor it occupies within the Portuguese creativeness, the fishing trade is in decline.
In line with the Nationwide Statistics Workplace, there have been 14,000 fishermen on 7,600 boats in Portugal final yr, about 30 % fewer than 20 years in the past.