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How the traditional kaiki catches daily fresh fish

Greek kaiki going for fishing

John KarkalatosJuly 14, 2020

Fresh fish is your favorite on vacation, you are looking forward to sit on a table with seafood by the sea.

But how is it caught and how is it distributed to the local taverns?

The kaiki is the main supplier of fresh fish

Greece stays faithful to the traditional way of fishing as it's a tradition of thousands of years.

The fleets of kaikia that you'll see in many harbors on the mainland and the islands, supply with fresh fish the households and the taverns of every area.

Kaikia sell their fish on the spot, most times as soon as they reach the harbor. The larger kaikia, which catch large quantities and bigger fish, sell also to fish shops.

In areas with large fishing fleets, there are makeshift markets with benches on the harbor. As soon as the kaikia arrive, the fish are sold on the spot to the public. Something like this is happening in Varkiza, the coastal suburb of Athens.

Farming fish on the other end are commercially available frozen. Their diet also is standardized with fish feed.

Kaiki surrounded by seagulls

A kaiki returning to the harbor surrounded by seagulls

For fresh fish on the islands then?

Most kaikia are located on the islands so there I'll enjoy fresh fish. Correctly? Wrong!

Mainland Greece has more boats than the islands. The small islands have very small fishing fleets. In islands with a lot of tourist traffic, such as Santorini and Mykonos, the demand is very high and can not be covered by kaikia.

It's no surprise that the local dishes of the islands consist mainly of agricultural and livestock products.

Species of fish caught

Some of the fish species caught depending on the season are:

You'll enjoy them in the fish taverns in all the coastal areas of Greece.

How the kaiki is fishing

Kaiki the moment the fisherman throws the nets

Kaiki while fishing with nets

Fishing in its simplest form is done with nets. The fisherman throws the nets from the stern of the boat carefully so as not to get tangled.

Kaiki appropriate for net fishing

Equipment of a net fishing kaiki

The above photo clearly shows the equipment of a net fishing kaiki.

The first cylinder on the left, on the bow, is called anemi and lifts the nets from the sea. The two cylinders in the middle is the winch that pulls the nets from the anemi. On the right, at the stern, you see the handlebar of the boat, the lagoudera.

Purse seine kaiki

Purse seine fishing

The photo shows the purse seine fishing equipment.

On the right, the three blue cylinders, is the winch that pulls the nets. In the middle with the orange color are the fishing lamps that are thrown into the sea and with their lights attract the fish. You can also see the boxes in which the fish will be placed.

Short history

The history of fishing in Greece begins in the prehistoric cave Frachthi, in the village of Koilada in Argolida, where the first fish bones were found.

Cave Frachthi

The prehistoric cave Frachthi

The first traces of seafood to appear are limpets and sea snails that abound on the rocky shores and date back 13,000 years.

11,000 years ago we find tuna bones, a species that is only caught in deep waters in the Cyclades and eastern Evia. It is unknown by what means prehistoric man caught fish in such waters.