Protected from the tumult of the ocean, our tropical lagoon and coral reefs are paradisiac shelters for underwater fauna. Fish, molluscs, and crustaceans, all share peacefully this stunning habitat. A Garden of Eden for fishermen and scuba diving enthusiasts!
For decades, fishing played an essential role in the lives of many Mauritians. Enjoying the sea and its countless resources all year round is the norm of living in Mauritius. There is nothing more authentic than to immerse oneself in the daily life of the fishermen who skilfully handle their nets, seine, traps, and fishing poles.
Fishing is a common trade in the Mauritian culture. In the coastal regions of the island, you can find fishermen, on foot, off the shore in pirogues or outside the comfort of the lagoon. In the early hours of the morning, well before sunrise, with their fishing tools and baits, they board on the pirogues. Sailing around the lagoon hoping for a good haul.
The origins of the pirogue go back to the 18th century, at the beginning of the French settlement. The similarity with the Breton sardine boat is obvious. 6 to 8 meters long and a little more than a meter and a half wide, the pirogues are often propelled using a pole.
The art of traditional fishing
Seine fishing is a traditional method from March to September. It is practiced in groups. Seine nets held down by weights and its top edge is buoyed by floats. A first net is deployed on the sandbanks and another one that fishermen call “lasenn kanar“, made of pieces of bamboo, catches the fish on the surface of the water.
In the coastal regions of the island, at Cap Malheureux in the north or Trou d’eau douce in the east, the return of the fishermen is an event not to be missed. After several hours at sea, dozens of pirogues with their colourful hulls unload their catch on the dock.
On the stalls we find an array of local species roaming our lagoon; shoemaker spinefoot, blue-barred parrotfish, bluespine unicornfish, bluestripe snapper, blacktip grouper and spangled emperor. Their freshness is guaranteed! The “bayan” * are on the lookout for bargains.
* Kreol term to designate one who purchases the fish directly from the fishermen to resell them to the locals, often in the shade of the trees by the roadside.
The delicacies of the ocean at your doorstep
Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has a selection of delicious fresh seafood at the heart of many local dishes; curries, briani, octopus salad and many others. An incredible culinary experience awaits you!
Crabs, lobsters, squids, sea urchin octopus… so many marine treasures to tempt your taste buds. At low tide, the beaches are transformed into seafood gardens. You can pick up small shellfish such as clams, small crabs, konokono (a sea snail), periwinkles, hermit crabs and so much more.
A plethora of tropical fish can be found on the island
The blacktip grouper: Famous for its pale red colour with white speckles, the blacktip grouper is a small fish popular for its tasty flesh.
The goldlined seabream: Silvery in colour, streaked with horizontal golden lines inspired its name, the goldlined seabream. This small fish lives in the Mauritian lagoon and can be easily used in numerous recipes whether curried or fried.
The Red Snapper: One of the most expensive fish on the Mauritian market. Sought by connoisseurs for its savoury flesh, this fish can measure up to 80 centimetres and weigh about ten kilos.
The Bluespine Unicornfish: This fish owes its name to its horn on the forehead at the level of the eyes. Nicknamed “gadjack soular” * by the locals since it is often served as an aperitif to accompany a glass of rum.
* Drunkards’ favourite snack
An unforgettable adventure awaits!
Fishing within the lagoon alongside the locals is not the only way to have an authentic experience. For the adventurous ones, there is deep-sea fishing. This nautical activity that is very popular with those in search of big game such as tuna, blue marlin, bonito, common dolphinfish, and sailfish.
In Mauritius and Rodrigues, octopus hunting is a very popular activity. It is mainly done at low tide on the coral plains. In Rodrigues, the octopus is then salted and dried in the sun.
On the island, the pirogue is part of our heritage and several activities are linked to it, such as regattas. It is a pirogue race where fishermen compete against one another. The pirogues are dressed in their most beautiful finery with colourful sails.