Marie from Marsaxlokk

The People of Malta

Our first post in a collaboration we have with The People of Malta (TPOM) to promote the people at the front line of the Maltese food scene.

Today we meet with Marie from Marsaxlokk. She comes from a big family of fishermen who are part of the brimming fishing community of Marsaxlokk.

Marsaxlokk is a seaside village in the south east of the Maltese islands. On flying into Malta you might get the opportunity to get a glimpse of the typical bay from the skies as airlines normally fly over before landing at the Malta International Airport.

Below we share Marie’s conversation about her family, her passion for fresh fish, and her never ending love of the sea.

Here in Marsaxlokk you will find many women who had to pull up their sleeves and support their family’s fishing trade. I was the eight sibling after seven sons. I have worked a lifetime with my family’s fish business.

Even though I was a girl, I still did my part and chipped in with a helping hand.

Until a while ago you would have found me selling fish at the market in Marsaxlokk. At the time, my mother would start the day by preparing soup and bread for her kids and husband to take with them on their fishing expedition. She would prepare the little ones for school and then go to set up her stall at the market to sell the fish my father had caught. She would alsogo down to Ħal-Qormi with buckets in a pram to sell the latest catch. They were hard times but still full of lovely memories.

I can recount a frightening experience when I was at sea trying to pull up my fish net. A big wave came and I was knocked off the boat and ended up in the sea. I was alone at the time. But fortunately I succeeded in getting back into my boat.

Today I was down at the quay to give my nephew a hand. At the moment we are organising the fish nets (ixkitta) which we throw out at sea to catch bogue fish (vopi), scad (sawrell), mackarel (kavalli) and even barracuda (lizz). With these nets you can’t catch all types of fish. Whatever we catch is then sold at the local fish market.

There are certain varieties of fish like the scorpion fish (ċipulazz) and lobster (awwista) which are purchased by restaurants. If I dine at a restaurant I will know if the fish is fresh or not. They will not be able to make a fool out of me. The fish caught in Maltese waters is obviously fresher but also tastes much better than fish which is imported.

When tourists visit Malta they expect to enjoy fresh local fish. I believe that you should not deceive your customers because you will end up reaping the damage you yourself have created. Once you fool a customer they will never trust you again.

I don’t mind the hard work. Yes it might be demanding, but better off than being in bad health.

Fishing runs in my blood. True that it can be demanding on yourself but there is a positive side which can fill you with satisfaction. For example it is with great pride that I see my nephews continuing our family’s fishing trade. I do my best to come and give them a hand. This I do as long as I find the energy and most importantly as long as God gives me the strength to carry on. Today I am 68 years old and still passionate about the sea and the fishing trade.

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