A Fisherman’s Journey
Italy | Lazio | Bolsena, Viterbo
Millo began working as a fisherman 13 years ago, but now he only processes and distributes ells. He is the Tuscia Lakes Eel Presidium producers’ coordinator.Millo began fishing professionally in 1998, getting a license and setting up a cooperative to sell his catch, but now he runs an eel processing facility.
These days around 60 to 70 fishermen work on Lake Bolsena, and none of them are young. Parents have other plans for their children, hoping for a job that is less physically exhausting and better paid. “The local fishermen talk a lot about the generational turnover,” says Millo. “Fishermen have to deal with serious financial and management problems, bureaucratic nuisances, problems with catch quantities: sometimes lake fish are there and sometimes they’re not.”
There is ruthless competition in the fishing industry today, with big business killing small-scale, traditional fishing. Small-scale fishing will only survive if there is a change in consumption. Consumers must be educated and provided with correct information so they can make responsible choices that protect sustainable fishing.
“There are only small-scale fishermen on the lake, but that doesn’t mean it’s by choice or that they’re interested in sustainable and less-invasive fishing,” continues Millo. “It’s hard to find working fishermen who will accept sensible proposals. In the end everyone thinks for themselves and that’s it. It’s unlikely that they’ll make farsighted choices and participate in projects with long-term objectives. They prefer to fish more rather than relying on the quantities the market demands, causing the price of their catch to fall. They don’t want to take any risks. The mentality is ‘better a chicken today than an egg tomorrow.’ ”