Sunday, March 16, 2014

The former fish cannery at La Rajita

I found the following interesting article today:

''La Rajita was formerly one of the centres of La Gomera's fishing industry, thanks to a factory operated by the Alicante-based Lloret y Llinares company, and until the 1960s it played an important role in the island economy.
Several such small fish salting, processing and packing factories were established in the nineteenth century and by the 1920s were flourishing, thanks to the island's situation and topography.
La Gomera was situated on a main tuna migration route, (and still is, but today's tuna population is miniscule in comparison).  There is also an ample coastal platform where valleys meet the sea.  The potential profit of this wealth of mobile food passing by, together with the relative ease of siting sheltered coastal fish factories, was soon efficiently exploited.  There were three such plants on the island's southern coast, one of which flourished from 1909 until 1986 at La Rajita.
During the 1960s, a massive three quarters of all fish disembarked in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, that is, on the islands of Tenerife, La Palma and El Hierro, as well as La Gomera, was absorbed by these three plants on La Gomera, two of which were set in isolated valleys, and the third in Playa Santiago.
The 60s heralded the end of their heyday.  Various factors, such as an outdated fleet, Japanese factory boats, the depletion of fishing grounds, lack of capital for modernisation and increasing local demands for fair wages, together with the availability of cheap labour in North Africa, caused crisis in the sector.
None of the three plants survived, despite this promising early 70s Agencia de Extensión Agraria report: “The preserves factory in La Rajita on La Gomera processes fish caught in the south of the island, the most important species being tuna and mackerel.  The factory also makes 'caviar Gomera', which is much appreciated (mackerel and sea bream roe).  La Rajita has an annual production of approximately 2,400 tons”.
Many workers came round by boat, weather permitting, from nearby Valle Gran Rey on a daily basis.  Women worked as fish cleaners and packers, men as tradesmen and fishermen.  There was a single story, cement factory, surrounded by workers' flats, boat houses for the small fishing fleet, a jetty, a football pitch, a shop, a gofio mill, chicken houses, goat pens, a thriving school and a chapel.
La Rajita's population slowly dwindled when the factory closed.  By the late 80s, the last families moved out.  Valle Gran Rey's tourist trade was growing, offering employment.  The access road between La Dama and La Rajita was in poor condition and in any case, there was little opportunity for either work or leisure activities in La Dama.
A few workers found employment in the banana cooperative there, but the school that La Rajita's children were relocated to was tiny, with children between three and twelve in one class.  The coup de grace came with the offer of newly built council housing in Valle Gran Rey for the remaining La Rajita population....''

The above appeared a couple of days ago on Island (click for complete article)


John from Norfolk uk said...

Interesting article about la Rajita
Just been on google live view and had a looki

Maria from Sweden said...

Very interesting, as always. Since it was in business (though poorly) until 86 there are probably fishermen among those sittning in Valle Gran Rey harbour café who can tell you inside stories about this.