Sicily sciacca: the oily fish capital

22.8% of the national fishing fleet
19,4% Demersal trawl
5,9% Long line
27,7% Purse seine
46,1% Small scale fisheries
0,7% Gill net
0,2% Fishing lines

Schermata 2015-09-16 alle 21.55.55


The port of Sciacca is home to a fishing fleet of about 140 vessels, with 5939 GRT, it is the second largest in Sicily after that of Mazara del Vallo. The fishing activities in the port, including the facilities on land, involve nearly two thousand people with an annual turnover in excess of thirty million Euros.

The most common fishery is that targeting species such as anchovy, sardine, mackerel and round sardinella using purse seine nets.

Fishing activities in Sciacca support a thriving fish canning industry, in particular that related to salting and preserving oily fish, for which the town is renowned in Italy and worldwide.

The fish caught and landed here, after processing in its canneries, is exported all around the world, making Sciacca the leading producer in Europe. There is also a moderate shipyard that builds small and medium sized boats.



On landing, the fish is immediately taken to the processing plants in refrigerated lorries and here controls are carried out on the quality and freshness of the catch. Following careful selection, anchovies are stored in vats containing brine before being beheaded and gutted manually.

They are then returned to the brine for about 30 minutes, after which they are put into special metal containers, alternating a layer of fish and one of salt before being left to age.

Salting towers

In the first few days the position of the cans is repeatedly changed and each time the top layer of salt is replaced with clean salt and then repositioned in the so-called aging tower.

Every day throughout the seasoning period, brine is added to the cans in the tower which are very slowly pressed until the product is perfect.

Preservation in oil

The production of anchovy, sardine and round sardinella fillets in oil derives from the first stage of the salting process and is divided into two phases. In the first phase the product is packed into drums following the same method as that described above for the production of salted fish.

Once the fish have aged, they are removed and filleted, which involves washing and drying the salted fish so that even the typical silver colour comes off, the scales are then removed and the fillets are placed in the chosen containers. After this oil is added so as to cover the entire contents of the can.

All stages of the production process follow the traditional methods typical of the companies in Sciacca, thus assuring a high quality product that is increasingly widespread both in Italy and abroad.