Fishing and navigation

Santurtzi has been one of the ports in Biscay that has dedicated more vessels to inshore fishing, registering around fifty boats in its heyday. Until the early 20th century, the “trainera” (small fishing boat) was the essential tool used for this activity; this was replaced by steam-powered vessels, or vessels with internal-combustion engines, whose loading capacity was greater and posed less requirements as far as workforce was concerned. The fishing activity that was more suitable for this style of fishing was the sardine, followed by anchovy, sea bream, horse-mackerel, mackerel and even albacore.

Marketing of the fish was immediate, and this task primarily fell on women. The popular “sardineras” (sardine sellers), carrying a basket full of well arranged pieces, and donning a peculiar attire, went through the streets of many towns in Biscay verbally announcing the excellences of their merchandise.

The proximity of the fearsome sandbank of Portugalete fostered the creation of a large group of pilots who ensured the safe crossing of the harbour during low tide.