Fishing has always been one of the pillars of La Gomera’s economy. It is practiced using a special local fishing tackle, as well as a range of knowledge, techniques and customs. Fishing boats, hand-crafted by carpenters working on the shore, used to be propelled by oars and sails but have recently been motorised. They go off in search of shoals of tuna and other abundant species.
Fishermen follow ancestral systems of spatial reference using landmarks (houses, trees, mountains, etc.) to locate areas with good fish stocks. Landmarks are known only to the crew of each boat and kept secret from other fishermen.
The first fishermen settled in the south of the island after the establishment of a salted fish industry at the end of the 19th century, which in time gave rise to canning factories that today no longer exist. The development of these factories at the beginning of the 20th century was a radical change in the traditional craft of fishing, leading to a flourishing industry that provided work for a good part of the population of the south. There was much exchange of agricultural products for fish. The inhabitants from inland came down to the coast bringing firewood as fuel for the enormous cauldrons used to prepare the tuna for canning.