Gilbard further notes that during the 18th Century the Catalans had their salting pans where they beached their boats at the mouth of the river Palmones but that after Catalonia declared for the Archduke in August 1705 they switched their camp to Catalan Bay under the protection of their new allies.6 Tunny fishing was not new in this area, with the tunny being engraved in coins found in nearby Carteia and the fish caught there was highly celebrated in Greece and at Rome in ancient times, as were also the sauces and condiments prepared in Cadiz.7 Such a tradition had persisted throughout the centuries. Bell quoting from Ayala’s own account declared that ‘the tunny fishing is not now to be compared with that of former times carried on from Cadiz, Santi Petri, Conil, Zara, Traifa, Carteia and Gibraltar; it now being confined to Conil, the only celebrated place in our days.’8
It seems plausible that after the Treaty of Utrecht, when Catalonia was once more absorbed by the Bourbons the Catalans returned to their old fishing camp at the mouth of the river Palmones and that Genoese fishermen who also fished the anchovy began to use the cove instead. Father Jones, writing in the Gibraltar Chronicle in 1909, said that the Diccionario Universal published by Don Nicholas Serrano stated that the bay was so called because the inhabitants, a Genoese colony, follow the same trade of fishing as the Catalans’.9 There is also the theory that the people of the Ligurian Alps, dependent on chickpeas and chestnuts for their diet, were forced from the countryside to the cities whenever their crop failed – which it did with alarming regularity. Many were forced to emigrate either to Andalusia or South America and some made their way to Gibraltar. However, there is no evidence that these poor immigrants actually settled in Catalan Bay at all. Many Genoese who did arrive in Gibraltar were traders and seafarers and very shrewd businessmen rather than peasants any although some did settle, the majority returned to their native land once the period of prosperity (usually during times of war) ended. In any case, throughout the 18th Century there was no such thing resembling a fishing village at Catalan Bay even though the orders for the siege of 1727 refer to this bay as the Genoese Cove. Genoese fishermen did make use of the cove but came here for the anchovy season returning to their home ports once the fishing season ended and their fish had been salted. There is evidence that these transient fishermen slept in a number of caves along the edge of the cliffs surrounding Catalan bay during the tunny season but no permanent settlement. Robert Poole writing in 1748 observed these fishermen at work:10
During my being in this situation, (on the top of the Rock) casting my eye down the Rock upon the shore eastward, I was amused with the motion of something upon the sand, which seemed so small that I could not tell what to conclude them to be; till, using my telescope, I perceived that they were fishermen, busied in their occupation, walking upon the shore and spreading their nets.
The exceeding height of the Rock was such as reduced them so small. that I could not distinguish what they were, but by the help of the spying glass, I could perceive what they were of Moorish complexion, which by enquiry, I was afterwards informed were Genoese, who had their dwellings in holes in the rocks.