Calabria, silver scabbardfish, “o signurina du mari” (the maiden of the seas)

6,6% of the national fishing fleet
16,9% Demersal trawl
0,8% Seine nets
75,8% Small-scale fisheries
6,5% Polyvalent passive gear


In Calabria, the scabbard fish or spatula is such a characteristic species that the Regional authorities have included a dish made with it (‘nvoltini i spatula) – a kind of roulard – among the Traditional Calabrian Agrifood Products.

Its body is ribbon-shaped and silver, it has flat sides and doesn’t have scales, the silver colour comes off easily if touched. This species lives at great depths, but can come up to 20-30 meters in summer and autumn.

The scabbard is rarely a target species, it is most frequently a by-catch of the various fisheries activities targeting other species. In the Strait of Messina the craft of “spadularu” actually exists, scabbard fishery is an ancient tradition handed down from father to son; the vessels used are equipped with large refrigerated containers, to prevent the fish from losing their characteristic silver colour that only freshly caught specimens have.

The flesh is particularly lean, easily digested and with a delicate flavour, which have earned this fish the name in dialect of “signurina du mari” or maiden of the seas.