The Sicilian fleet represents 23.9% of the national fleet and 33.3% of the total tonnage employed in fishing. These figures show how important the regional productive sector is on a national level, both in terms of capacity and results obtained. The ratio gross tonnage/boat was found to be high. The average size of a boat in Sicily is 14.2 tonnes, compared to a national average of 11.2 tonnes. This average figure is heavily affected by the high tonnage of the trawling boats (60 tonnes per boat), much higher than the national average for the same sector.
Although there are areas which are highly specialized in high-productivity fishing techniques (trawlnets and surrounding nets), the Region's fishing industry remains decidedly traditional in technique (50% of the entire fleet). Many fishing fleets show a high social and economic dependency on smallscale fishing. Most of the small-scale fishing uses fixed fishing gear (fixed nets, longlines, traps), on non-trawling seabeds. This is due to two reasons; firstly to protect the equipment from damage caused by the trawl-nets, and secondly, to catch a range of species on the rocky seabed with a high market value.
Sicilian aquaculture (fish farming) on a national level has always been an important centre of production. The saltworks in Trapani have been used for the breeding of marine fish species for centuries, both in the canals running down to the sea and in the 'cold pans' used for the initial stages of salt making.The sector has undergone huge changes in the last ten years with the proliferation of highly technological structures which use, in most cases, either floating, submergible or submerged cages.
The mild climate has pushed the Region to one of the top positions based on volumes (above all connected to marine and saltwater pisciculture). Sicily is the country's biggest open-sea fish farming region.
Sicilian entrepreneurship is, without doubt, the largest driving force, alongside technological development, which has enabled such sustained development in the sector.
Mariculture is also a valid alternative for small-scale trawler fishermen who work along
The growth in this sector is due to the growing demand for fish products and the depletion of some fish stocks. Sicily accounts for approx. 20% of the total national volume of fish breeding of euryhaline species. The biggest farms are in the Provinces of Siracusa, Agrigento and Trapani, which alone account for 92% of the Region's production. Other farms are located on the Islands of Filicudi (Messina) and Favignana (Trapani). There are 105 processing plants in Sicily, employing a total of 1,424 workers (full-time equivalent).
Overall, the fishing industry employs 18,135, of which 10,535 are employed directly by the sea fishing sector, 1,424 by the processing sector and 217 in fish farming. Connected activities (sales, port services and other) employ approx. 6,000. In percentage terms, Sicily is home to 26% of all seamen and 18% of all those employed in the fishing industry in Italy.