The Po Delta

Dawn breaks over the Po Delta on a cold and grey late autumn morning, from a fisherman’s hut nets hang suspended over the water, waiting for the tides to dictate the start of the next shift…

the po delta

Fishing in the Po Delta is big business. Scenes like this – an isolated fisherman’s hut with nets hanging from rigging over the water – are everywhere. This is a ‘transitional marsh environment’, one where the fresh water of the Po meets the salt water of the Adriatic in countless small bodies of shallow waters that combine to create a biodiversity unparalleled in Italian waters – and far beyond. Scardovari mussels and Polesine clams are among the great prizes of the Po Delta; anchovies and sardines, bluefish, eels and mullets are also landed.

Yet the very success of the Delta as a fishery is also a threat to it. The place where this photograph was taken lies in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This protects the region’s unique habitats. But UNESCO World Heritage Sites also attract tourists, and tourists travel through marshes in boats (boats such as the one this photograph was taken from), and those boats get in the way of the fishing boats and their nets. The locals would like to have the income from both fishing and tourism, but it may be that one day they’ll have to choose.