Civic Institutions: The Ataxia Plague

A truly damaging plague that must be stamped out is the so-called ‘ataxia’ that is the poisoning of the waters by the greedy who reap illicit gains from the practice.

Clandestine fishing using the so-called ataxia should be everyone’s concern because of the damage it causes. Ataxic waters not only devastated the population of eels and other fish that inhabit the eddies, they also fill the surface of the river with dead fish, and it is also dangerous for the animals that come to drink from the river.

For such an immoral and criminal end is commonly used the tasso, a coniferous plant with a red stem and dark, pointed leaves, that is poisonous and lethal, or the rizziteddru, a type of titimaglia (euphorbia, myrsinites), a plant characterized by clumps of numerous and simple flowers, combined into a compound with cipressina which contains a very caustic sap which spurts out of a pierced or cut stem; the distilled liquid has extreme properties, which stun, numb, and kill the fish, which are then transported to market for sale.

The regulations published by the Ministry of the Interior are explicit (Div. 5, sec. 2, n. 10173104505) of February, 5, 1892, and those of the Universal Law on fishing of October 8, 1931, with grave prohibitions, found in article 6, and with severe punishments set forth in article 33, 34, 37, 38, 40.

The laws exist…. but the traditional ataxia is still in style!

[This webpage is excerpted from the book: “The History of Poggioreale, Sicily – From 1640 to 1956.” Originally written in Italian by: Canonico Dottore Francesco Aloisio in 1956. Adapted and translated by: Dr. Jeremiah P. Spence, Ph.D. of Austin, Texas. 5th Edition. International Order of Genealogists Publishing. Ireland. 2019. ISBN: 9781072403371. The book can be purchased online at: ]