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© 2017 John Kiely        john@purlieu.photography             Phone +447736849388

Fuzeta Salt

October 20, 2019





The main industries around Fuzeta, excluding tourism, are fishing and salt production.  The fishing is on a small scale and seems mainly to supply local markets.  However, salt production has shaped the landscape around this small coastal town.  Clean Atlantic water flows into the Ria Formosa Natural Park where it feeds the salt marshes and is channeled into salt pans.  Through a succession of sluice gates the water flows through various lagoons, eventually entering shallow, clay lined salt pans.  At each stage the salinity of the water is increased until it reaches about 150 to 180 grams per litre.  The majority of the harvest comes from allowing the water to evaporate, leaving what could almost be mistaken for ice rinks.  The sea salt is then scraped from the pans using a mechanical excavator and loaded onto trucks for processing.  Salt produced by this process consists of large, coarse crystals know as Sal do Mar.



In addition to sal do mar there are two further grades produced.  Flor de sal is extracted by scooping the very fine salt crystals that are formed as the water evaporates and float on the surface.  These are gathered daily and are simply air dried before packing.  Sal tradicional is another less industrial process and is produced in small ponds.  Wooden rakes are used rather than mechanical devices.  This is then piled up beside the ponds and allowed to dry in the warm air.




Salt production starts after the spring rains have finished and continues through to the autumn. During the winter months the pans are allowed to fill with water while maintenance is carried out on the slices and dykes.  A harmonious relationship exists between the salt production and the natural park.  In addition to the pans that are flooded when not in use, there are many redundant or abandoned ponds.  These attract a wide variety of wildlife such as flamingoes, egrets, spoonbills and other wading birds.  Bird watchers can often be seen when rarer migrating species are visiting.


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