Category Archives: Media

DO YOU BELIEVE IN ANGELS?

www.TheOceanLife.com

It’s time to bring angels back. And if we listen to the better angels of our nature, we can.

Imagine you are an Angel Shark. You look more like a ray than a shark, but shark you are. You live in the waters of the Adriatic, in a marine forest  surrounded by young fish at play in their nursery. A pod of dolphins swim excitedly by, worrying a school of tuna. You bury yourself in the sandy bottom where a special form of gill, unusual among sharks, known as a spiracle, delivers oxygen straight to your brain, allowing you to lie still, the eyes on top of your head just above the sand, your whisker-like barbels sensing the slightest movement in the water. You are awaiting your favourite late afternoon Mediterranean snack: a ray or a flatfish preferably. Should one swim by, your strike, at a right angle to your body, will take less than a tenth of a second. The long fin under your belly, the mirror image of most shark’s long top fin, will help propel you upwards. You’ll snag your prey between nine rows of razor sharp teeth on the top of your jaw and the ten rows of teeth on the bottom.

But you won’t be eating today, or ever again. Your sensitive barbel picks up a disturbance in the water, something very big, moving very fast. You lie still as you can, but suddenly all around you is chaos: Sponge shredding, the sand on the sea bottom in sudden turmoil, and you’re being dragged and then lifted up by a heavy chain dragging along the seafloor and then pushed into a wall of fish and rock and sea life at the back of a bottom trawler’s net, strip mining the sea bottom. You’re bycatch, an unwanted victim of a fishing net intended to catch hake or shrimp, but in the process managing to destroy everything in its path. You’re among the last of your kind.

Angel sharks,  extinct in large areas of the Mediterranean today, were once plentiful in the Adriatic. They bear live young, but only 1 in 5 ever reach maturity, which has made them particularly vulnerable to the chronic overfishing, the depletion of  oyster beds, and the loss of habitat to bottom trawling that have plagued the Mediterranean for decades.

The angel shark is emblematic of the steep decline in the number and variety of fish in the Adriatic. It was common at least until the mid 1920s, and known as “monkfish” and “sand devil” on restaurant menus across Europe.

Its exploitation goes back thousands of years. Ancient Greeks described its flesh as “light” and “easily digestible.” Its rough skin was reportedly used by craftsmen for polishing wood and, ironically, ivory. Nothing like using the skin of one endangered species to buff up the tusks of another.

In the 1920s, nearly 60,000 kilograms of Angel Shark a year were sold in the Venice fish market alone. By 1980, that figure was down to 20 kilograms. Then nothing. The species is all but gone now.

But with better protection of habitat, better management of fishing fleets, and an end to the barbaric practice of bottom trawling, we can bring the Angel Shark back. We can make this symbol of overexploitation a symbol of regeneration, of coming to our senses, of a new relationship with the ocean.

The angels of the bible were messengers: they escorted Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden, they bore glad tidings and prophecies. The Angel Shark is a messenger as well — a warning of how our shortsighted plunder of our own home threatens our own extinction. It’s time to believe we can change. It’s time to hear the message of the Angel Shark. It’s time to #BelieveInAngels.


Want to tell the world you #BelieveInAngels?

Print and hang your very own ANGEL SHARK CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT on your tree! Take a picture and upload it to Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the tag #BelieveInAngels and join us in making a great big Christmas wish for better ocean protection.

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ADRIATICO: OLTRE 200 RICERCATORI DA TUTTO IL MONDO CHIEDONO LA CHIUSURA PERMANENTE DELLA FOSSA DI POMO ALLA PESCA A STRASCICO

 

Roma, 16 ottobre 2017 – Sono oltre 200 i ricercatori che da Università ed enti di ricerca di tutto il mondo hanno aderito all’appello per la protezione della Fossa di Pomo, situata nel centro Adriatico tra Italia e Croazia.

Alla vigilia della riunione in Montenegro della Commissione Generale sulla Pesca nel Mediterraneo (CGPM), che esaminerà la proposta di istituzione di una Fisheries Restricted Area (FRA), ovvero di un’area chiusa alla pesca demersale, presentata da MedReAct e dall’Adriatic Recovery Project, 200 ricercatori si rivolgono al CGPM per chiedere la chiusura permanente della Fossa di Pomo alla pesca demersale. Quest’area, che arriva a una profondità massima di 200-260 metri, presenta caratteristiche uniche dal punto di vista geomorfologico e oceanografico.

E’ considerato uno dei più importanti Essential Fish Habitat di tutto l’Adriatico, soprattutto ai fini della riproduzione e della crescita di alcune importanti specie demersali come il nasello. L’area ospita inoltre la più estesa popolazione di scampi. La pesca, soprattutto quella a strascico, minaccia dunque seriamente le popolazioni ittiche che fanno di questa zona una delle più importanti riserve di pesca dell’Adriatico. L’appello, ha raccolto l’adesione di firme e pareri autorevoli del mondo della ricerca scientifica

“Ho firmato perché dovremmo cercare di recuperare almeno parte di quella biodiversità marina che abbiamo perso”, ha dichiarato Daniel Pauly, ricercatore al Fishery Center della Università della Colombia Britannica in Canada, molto noto per i suoi lavori sull’impatto della pesca sull’ambiente marino.

“Abbiamo urgente bisogno di misure che proteggano dallo strascico di fondo”, ha dichiarato Callum Roberts, professore, oceanografo, all’University of York. “Senza di esse l’Adriatico, continuerà il suo inesorabile cammino verso la perdita dei suoi stock.

“Così come nell’ambiente terrestre boschi e foreste garantiscono il mantenimento della biodiversità, in mare è l’integrità strutturale e funzionale dei fondali che permette la resilienza allo sfruttamento”, ha detto Carlo Cerrano, del Dipartimento di Scienza della Vita e dell’Ambiente dell’Università Politecnica delle Marche. “A lungo termine, senza l’habitat adeguato, nessuna specie può sopravvivere. La pesca a strascico non è sostenibile”.

“Come ricercatore con esperienza sugli impatti dello strascico di fondo sugli ecosistemi bentonici e conoscendo bene la vulnerabilità ecologica del mare Adriatico e in particolare delle sue zone più profonde – ha dichiarato Antonio Pusceddu, professore nel Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’Ambiente all’Università di Cagliari – credo fermamente che preservare la Fossa di Pomo debba costituire una priorità per la conservazione della biodiversità e per la gestione delle risorse del mare Adriatico”.

Oltre alle numerose adesioni da parte della comunità scientifica, l’istituzione di una FRA nella Fossa di Pomo, ha ricevuto il sostegno dell’Unione Europea che l’ha inserita tra gli impegni della UE per la conservazione degli oceani, nel corso della Conferenza Our Ocean svoltasi a Malta il 5-6 ottobre scorso. Alla sua ufficializzazione manca dunque solo l’avallo della CGPM.

“L’istituzione della FRA in una zona considerata da decenni prioritaria per la conservazione delle risorse e dei suoi ecosistemi vulnerabili” – ha concluso Domitilla Senni responsabile di MedReAct e coordinatrice dell’Adriatic Recovery Project “costituirebbe finalmente un primo segnale concreto per il recupero dell’Adriatico e per il futuro della pesca”.

Scarica la petizione: adriatic_petition IT

Download the press release  PR ENG   and the petition in English: adriatic_petition ENG

Download the press release  PR HR  and petition in Croatian: adriatic_petition_HR

 

 

 

 

 

MORE THAN 200 SCIENTISTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD CALL FOR PERMANENT CLOSURE OF THE JABUKA/POMO PIT TO BOTTOM TRAWLING

PRESS RELEASE ADRIATIC

16 October 2017 – More than 200 scientists from universities and research institutes around the world have signed an appeal for the protection of the Jabuka/Pomo Pit, situated in the central Adriatic between Italy and Croatia.

On the eve of the 41st session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in Montenegro, where a proposal to establish a Fisheries Restricted Area (FRA) – i.e. an area closed to demersal fisheries – presented by MedReAct and the Adriatic Recovery Project will be examined, over 200 researchers have appealed to the GFCM to call for the permanent closure of the Jabuka/Pomo Pit to demersal fisheries. The Jabuka/Pomo, with a maximum depth of 200-260 metres, contains unique geomorphological and oceanographic features. It is considered one of the most important Essential Fish Habitats of the Adriatic, hosting spawning areas and nursery of commercially important species such as hake and Norway lobster. Overfishing, especially by bottom-trawling, has caused the decline of fish stocks and threatens their essential habitats as those found in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit.

“I signed it because we should try to recover some of the marine biodiversity we used to have,” declared Daniel Pauly, professor of fisheries at the University of British Columbia’s Fishery Centre in Canada, well known for his studies on the impact of fisheries on the marine environment.

“Protection from bottom trawling is an urgent necessity,” said Callum Roberts, professor and oceanographer at the University of York. “Without it, the Adriatic will continue its long slide towards fisheries irrelevance.”

Whereas in the terrestrial environment woods and forests guarantee the maintenance of biodiversity, in the sea it is the structural and functional integrity of the sea beds that permits resiliency to exploitation,” said Carlo Cerrano of the Department of Life Sciences and Environment at the Marche Polytechnic University. “In the long term, without healthy habitat, no species can survive. Bottom trawling is not sustainable.”

“As a researcher familiar with the impact of bottom trawling on benthic ecosystems, and knowing well the ecological vulnerability of the Adriatic Sea and in particular of its deepest zones,” declared Antonio Pusceddu, professor in the Department of Life Sciences and Environment at the University of Cagliari, “I firmly believe that preserving the Jabuka/Pomo Pit should be a priority for the conservation of biodiversity and management of resources of the Adriatic Sea.”

In addition to the numerous adhesions from the scientific community, the creation of a FRA in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit has received the support of the European Union which included it among the EU’s commitments for ocean conservation during the Our Ocean conference held in Malta last 5-6 October. All that it is needed now is for the FRA to be formally established by the GFCM.

“The creation of an FRA in a zone that for decades has been considered a priority for the
conservation of its resources and its vulnerable ecosystems,” concluded Domitilla Senni of MedReAct and coordinator of the Adriatic Recovery Project, “would constitute a first concrete step for the recovery of the Adriatic and the future of its fisheries.”

Download the Press release in English

Download the Press release in Italian

OUR OCEAN: A MALTA l’UE ANNUNCIA IMPEGNO PER LA PROTEZIONE DELLA FOSSA DI POMO

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Alla Conferenza sugli Oceani in corso in questi giorni a Malta, l’Unione Europea, per bocca del Commissario Vella, e la Croazia hanno presentato, tra le misure per la protezione del Mediterraneo, l’istituzione di una FRA (Fishery Restricted Area) nella Fossa di Pomo (un’area che si estende per circa 2700 Km  tra l’Italia e la Croazia) con l’obiettivo di proteggere gli stock ittici in un habitat riconosciuto come essenziale per la riproduzione di molte specie marine. L’istituzione della FRA sarà ufficializzata durante la Commissione Generale per la Pesca del Mediterraneo  (CGPM) che si svolgerà dal 16 al 19 ottobre in Montenegro.

La proposta della FRA è stata presentata da MedReAct e dall’alleanza internazionale “Adriatic Recovery Project” costituitasi, quest’ultima, neanche un anno fa proprio per portare avanti azioni in difesa del mare Adriatico.

“Un grande risultato che da ragione al nostro impegno e al nostro lavoro e un plauso a Karmenu Vella, Commissario Europeo alla Pesca ”, dichiara con  soddisfazione Domitilla Senni  di MedReAct, che coordina l’alleanza internazionale. “L’UE ha evidentemente capito che non possiamo più tergiversare nella difesa del Mediterraneo e ha sposato la  chiusura alla pesca a strascico  della Fossa di Pomo,  essendo questa un’area fondamentale per la riproduzione di alcune delle specie commerciali più importanti, come gli scampi e i naselli.”

Se non vogliamo che il  mare Mediterraneo, e in particolare l’Adriatico, diventi un deserto mettendo a repentaglio la biodiversità ma anche tutto un sistema economico che da anni vive sulle risorse marine, c’è urgente bisogno di misure di protezione. La chiusura della Fossa di Pomo deve essere considerata come il primo passo verso una strategia di protezione più ampia.

“Siamo felici  – conclude Domittilla Senni – che la politica europea ne abbia finalmente preso atto”.

World Oceans Day: “Mare Nostrum or Mare Mortum?” Why does Europe support the destruction of the Mediterranean Sea?

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Large fish at risk of extinction, 39 fish stocks overexploited, catches of hake 5 times over sustainable limits, high degree of discards and bycatch, desertification of the seabed, high energy costs. All consequences of the industrial fisheries that receive the largest part of EU subsidies.

7 June 2017 – While the world celebrates Oceans Day on the 8th of June, MedReAct calls the attention of the European Union to the destructive impact of trawling in the Mediterranean and to the paradox at the heart of the EU’s fishing system: “Why subsidies are largely given to those who are responsible for the destruction of marine ecosystems and depleation of vulnerable species? Isn’t it time to change course?”

A new study published by Nature Ecology & Evolution confirms the risk of extinction in Europe for various large fish species, as well as for sharks and rays, due to their slow maturation and low birth rates and overfishing by professional and sport fishermen. The same study reveals that the percentage of overexploited fish stocks in the Mediterranean is significantly higher than that in the North Atlantic. The researchers confirmed that all of the assessed 39 Mediterranean fish stocks were found to be overexploited, with the hake in lead position, being fished at 5 times sustainable levels. The hake is the demersal species of highest commercial value, fished primarily by bottom trawlers and to a lesser extent by longliners.

But the impact of trawling, the most widespread industrial fishing practice in the Mediterranean, isn’t limited to the depletion of hake. In the past 30 years this sector of the industry has grown exponentially and, because of declines in the resource, has shifted increasingly to deeper waters in the hunt for new valuable stocks, such as deep water shrimps, creating irreversible changes to the seabed. In other instances it has encroached into forbidden coastal areas, in conflict with small-scale artisanal fisheries.

It is calculated that in 2014 alone trawling by the Italian fleet  was responsible for accidental catches of 20.000 sea turtles, most of which died as a result of suffocation or injury. But not only. The nets that are dragged along the sea bed collect everything in their way: fish, corals, sponges and other bottom-dwelling species. The sediments that are continually exposed to this practice have been found to be lacking the organic matter that constitutes a food source for benthic organisms, thus risking to turn the seabeds into marine deserts.

Trawling is a destructive form of fishing which is empoverishing our sea and which also has high energy costs. The European Union has calculated that for every tonne of fish captured, bottom trawlers of 24-40 metres consume 4,258 litres of fuel, as compared to 169 litres consumed by a fishing vessel of the same size using purse seines. And yet, it is those same bottom trawlers that benefit most from EU fisheries contributions, from fuel subsidies to funds for modernising the vessels and for compensating fishermen for the temporary suspension of fishing activities which as of today has produced no tangible result for stock recovery.

To celebrate World Oceans Day, the EU should reconsider its use of European tax-payers money to finance the destruction of the Mediterranean, so that Mare Nostrum doesn’t become Mare Mortum.

Images from MedReAct/Francesco Cabras: https://tinyurl.com/yc6j8zck

Journée mondiale des océans : “Mare Nostrum ou Mare Mortum ?” Pourquoi l’Europe ferme-t-elle les yeux sur la destruction de la Méditerranée ?

Grands prédateurs au bord de l’extinction, stocks majoritairement en état de surexploitation chronique, des captures de merlu 5 fois supérieures aux limites durables, 20 000 tortues dans les filets des chalutiers en 2014, désertification des fonds marins, coûts énergétiques non tenables… Tel est le paysage que laisse derrière elle la pêche industrielle, celle qui bénéficie le plus des subventions européennes.

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7 juin 2017. Alors que la Journée mondiale des océans sera célébrée demain un peu partout dans le monde, MedReAct interpelle l’Union européenne sur l’impact du chalutage en Méditerranée et souligne le paradoxe qui est au cœur de la gestion des pêches : Pourquoi les subventions vont-elles majoritairement à ceux-là même qui portent la plus lourde responsabilité dans la destruction des espèces vulnérables et des écosystèmes marins ? N’est-il pas temps de changer le cours des choses ?

Une nouvelle étude publiée par Nature Ecology & Evolution confirme le risque d’extinction de plusieurs espèces de grands prédateurs, y compris des requins et des raies. Certes, ces espèces ont pour caractéristiques communes d’avoir une maturité sexuelle tardive et un taux de reproduction faible, ce qui ne les a jamais empêchées de tenir depuis toujours leur place dans les écosystèmes méditerranéens. Ce qui est en cause est donc à chercher ailleurs, du côté de la surpêche de la part aussi bien des pêcheurs professionnels que récréatifs. Cette étude révèle également que le pourcentage des stocks surexploités est supérieur en Méditerranée par rapport à l’Atlantique Nord-est. Les 39 stocks évalués dans le cadre de l’étude affichent toutes des taux de capture qui indiquent la surexploitation. En raison de sa très forte valeur commerciale, le merlu est traqué par les chalutiers de fonds et dans une moindre proportion par les palangriers, ce qui lui vaut de figurer en tête des espèces surpêchées, avec des niveaux de capture 5 fois supérieurs à ceux que l’on pourrait qualifier de durables.

Mais l’impact du chalutage de fond, la technique la plus répandue en Méditerranée, va au-delà de la raréfaction du merlu. Au cours des trente dernières années, ce segment de flotte a connu une croissance exponentielle. Au fur et à mesure du déclin des stocks pêchés, le chalutage s’est fait plus profond, pour atteindre des nouveaux stocks à forte valeur ajouté comme les gambas, ce qui a créé des dommages irréversibles sur les fonds marins, un écosystème particulièrement fragile. Ces chalutiers font également des incursions régulières dans la bande côtière où ils entrent en conflit direct avec la petite pêche.

Les experts évaluent à 20 000 le nombre de tortues capturées en 2014 par les chalutiers italiens, la plupart d’entre elles étant tuées par noyade ou blessées. Mais les dégâts ne s’arrêtent pas là : Les chaluts trainés sur le fond ramassent ou détruisent tout ce qu’ils rencontrent : poissons mais aussi coraux, éponges et autres espèces animales endémiques. Alors qu’ils constituent la réserve de matière organique des espèces inféodées aux fonds marins, les sédiments constamment retournés par les chaluts s’appauvrissent, au point que certaines zones se transforment peu à peu en déserts sous-marins.

Le chalutage est un mode de pêche qui appauvrit notre mer et dont les coûts énergiques sont non soutenables. Le JRC de l’Union Européenne a ainsi calculé que pour les chalutiers de fond de 24 à 40 mètres, le ratio entre capture et consommation de carburant était de 4,25 : 4 258 litres de fuel (détaxé) pour 1 000 kg de poisson ! Ce chiffre est à comparer avec la consommation d’un senneur (filet utilisé pour le thon, la sardine et l’anchois) de taille équivalente : 169 litres pour 1 000 kg (2). Pourtant, ce sont les chalutiers de fond qui bénéficient de la plus grande part des aides européennes, qu’il s’agisse de subventions au carburant, à la modernisation des bateaux ou encore au chômage des marins pour cause de fermeture d’une pêcherie en raison de la faiblesse du stock (une mesure qui n’a jamais fait ses preuves en matière de restauration des stocks).

L’Union Européenne devrait mettre à profit cette Journée mondiale des océans pour reconsidérer l’utilisation qu’elle fait de ses aides et l’impact qu’elles ont sur la dégradation de la Méditerranée.

Mare Nostrum ne doit pas devenir Mare Mortum !

Images: MedReAct/Francesco Cabras: https://tinyurl.com/yc6j8zck

(1) An interview-based approach to assess sea turtle bycatch in Italian waters https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5408728/

(2) Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) ; The 2016 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet (P. 159).