Franco (a convincing role by Aniello Scotto D'Antuono) works as the youngest crewman on a small Neapolitan fishing boat. They are forced to fish the depleted waters around Sicily. The Mafia, that controls the waters of Naples, has driven them from their home port. Hoping for a big catch, Franco's captain decides to face another danger: illegal fishing in African territorial waters.Like a worthy heir of the historic neorealists (like Luchino Visconti in the period of La terra trema) Marra made this début with real fishermen from the island of Procida for the roles of the crew of the fishing boat. Together with a realistic, almost documentary way of filming, this provided a very authentic impression of harsh fishing life.Fishing in African waters turns out to be lethal. When the boat is damaged by triggerhappy coastguards, they return to Naples. Franco has had enough of the harsh and hopeless life at sea. He dreams of emigrating to America with his girlfriend Rosa. When Rosa dies in an accident soon after he arrives home, Franco looks as if he is in a dead end. In confusion, he signs on his old boat for a journey which can be his last, as far as he is concerned.