Madrague is a noun that commonly refers to a type of Mediterranean fishing practice and the structure used to support it. The term originated from the Provencal word "madrago," which means "enclosure." A madrague is essentially a specialized fishing net used to trap fish, particularly tuna. The setup consists of a complex system of nets, buoys, and poles that are strategically positioned in the sea to create a series of enclosures, thereby allowing fishermen to capture fish as they swim through the netted areas.
The madrague is typically positioned perpendicular to the coastline, taking into consideration the migratory patterns of target fish species. It is made up of different nets of varying sizes that are stretched between long wooden poles secured in the seabed. Fishermen closely monitor the nets, employing various techniques to drive fish towards them, such as fish attractants or loud noises. Once the fish are trapped inside the enclosures, they are gradually guided towards a central catching area where they can be harvested.
Madragues have been used for centuries and are especially prevalent in Mediterranean coastal regions where tuna fishing is a traditional practice. They have played a significant role in supporting local fishing economies and providing a sustainable means of capturing fish. However, in recent times, concerns about overfishing and the impact on marine ecosystems have led to stricter regulations and the adoption of more sustainable fishing practices.
The word "Madrague" has its roots in the Provençal dialect of the Occitan language. It originates from the Occitan word "madraga" or "madraco", which meant a fishing gear used to catch tuna. The Occitan term, in turn, is derived from the Arabic word "matraqa", meaning a fish trap or enclosure. This reflects the historical influence of Arabic culture and language on the Mediterranean region, particularly during the Arab presence in southern France in the Middle Ages. Over time, the term "madraga" transformed into "madrague", specifically referring to a type of fishing net or an enclosure used for trapping fish, especially tuna. Today, "Madrague" commonly refers to a fishing port or a coastal area where tuna fishing is practiced, particularly in the Mediterranean region.