“Sharfia” fishing in Kerkennah Islands classified as UNESCO intangible heritage

Ambassador-Permanent Representative of Tunisia to UNESCO, Ghazi Ghraïri, received Friday, February 19, 2021, on behalf of Tunisia, the certificate inscribing the fishing of the “Sharfia” of the Kerkennah Islands to the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The certificate was presented by Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay.

Sharfia fishing in the Kerkennah Islands (located about 18 kilometers off the coast of the city of Sfax), is a traditional artisanal fishing technique. It passively exploits the hydrographic conditions, the marine relief and the natural resources on sea as well as on land.

This fixed fishing circumscribes, thanks to palm walls inlaid in the bottom of the sea, a triangular path. The fish, carried along by the ebb tide, rush into catch chambers and then into nets or traps. They can no longer come out, contrary to those caught with trawls that scrape the seabed, the fish remain alive and fasting in the traps until they are lifted.

The Sharfia is usually installed between the autumn equinox and June to allow the marine fauna to regenerate. This makes it an environmentally friendly technique adapted to the standards of marine fauna preservation.

This device is also preserved as an ancestral tradition associated with other convivial rites. It also requires an excellent knowledge of underwater topography and marine currents.

For many years, this ancestral technique has been practiced and perceived as a factor of social unity and belonging for the inhabitants of the archipelago.


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