Types of fishing nets
Gillnets are static nets used for passive fishing. They are set along the coastline and left in the water for a specific period of time for the fish to entangle itself. There are many types and variations of gillnets, mainly related to their size, the size of the mesh (targeted catch), and the number of layers of the mesh body. They can be single-layered (such as girale and prostice) or triple-layered, with the most popular being popovnica. Besides passive fishing, gillnets are occasionally used for other more active forms of fishing, with the most popular method of this kind in Sućuraj being called fronžata. In this technique, several connected gillnets are used to enclose a portion of the sea, with one end anchored to the shore and the other end extending into the sea on a long line with strings or branches attached at regular intervals. The purpose of this decorated line is to agitate the fish within the enclosed area and drive them towards the net.
Shore and boat seines
There are two major categories of seines – those pulled ashore and those pulled by boats. The first category includes nets like “trate,” previously used for sardine fishing by pulling them ashore, and the once-popular “migavice” for pickarel fishing. However, this type of net is extremely rare in modern Dalmatia and is no longer used in Sućuraj. The second category consists of seines pulled by boats, with the most famous type still well-represented in Sućuraj being “koće” or trawl net. These are bag-shaped nets that are trawled along the seabed by special boats called “koćarice” which catch demersal species. This trawling process can last several hours and is called “kalada.” Since this is a non-selective form of fishing, after pulling the net onto the boat, the catch needs to be sorted and separated. “Koćarenje” is an extremely efficient fishing method and is now one of the most common forms of commercial fishing along the entire Croatian coast.
One of the most well-known nets that cannot be classified into any of the mentioned categories is the purse seine used for catching small pelagic fish. It is a net used to encircle a school of fish in open water, and its bottom is then closed using a special system of iron rings called “imbroj,” turning the net into a “bag” from which the fish cannot escape. The invention of the purse seine in the first half of the 20th century completely revolutionized sardine fishing, as successful fishing no longer depended on finding suitable locations for pulling the net ashore. Although it was very popular in Sućuraj in the past century, it is no longer used in this area today. “Orćaš” is another interesting type of net that is becoming less common but was once very popular. It is a coastal fishing net used from the shore. It has weights on its edges and a woven rope that could close the net into a bag shape. It was usually used for catching fish that graze on shoreline plants like salema and mullet. It was operated by a single person. The fisherman would carry the folded net on his shoulder, and when he spotted a school of fish, he would throw the net with one hand and tighten the rope with the other, causing the net to contract upon hitting the sea surface, thus trapping the fish.