Category Archives: Other


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  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.


The nine priority areas to restock the Mediterranean


Urgent call for action on the eve of the Ministerial Conference on Mediterranean Fisheries

Malta, 28 March 2017. “There are at least nine areas in the Mediterranean that need protection as a matter of priority in order to safeguard marine ecosystems and contribute to the recovery of fish stocks, starting with the central Adriatic where Italy and Croazia must soon state their positions regarding the protection of the Jakuba/Pomo Pit.” This is the call of MedReAct on the eve of the Ministerial Conference on Mediterranean Fisheries organised by the European Commission, taking place in Malta 29 and 30 March 2017. This area, which lies between Italy and Croatia, reaches a maximum depth of 200-260 metres, and has unique geomorphological and oceanographic features. It suffers severe impacts from bottom trawling which over the years has greatly reduced Adriatic fish stocks. This fishing method represents a serious threat to one of the most important nursery and spawning zones for European hake and Norway lobster (for more details see the attached briefing document). A proposal for its protection is currently being examined by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean which will express its position in the coming months.

The Malta conference, in which sixteen ministers from Mediterranean countries will participate, will conclude with the signing of the Malta MedFish4Ever declaration, committing Mediterranean countries to protect vulnerable species and sensitive habitats and to establish fisheries restricted zones and marine protected areas. By 2020 the coastal states must achieve protection of 10% of the Mediterranean Sea, in line with the sustainable development goals of the United Nations and the Convention on Biological Diversity. “Protection of the Jakuba Pomo Pit represents an important testing ground on which to verify the level of political will to restore vulnerable marine areas and fish stocks and to save the future of Adriatic fisheries,” declared MedReAct spokesperson Domitilla Senni. “We call on Italy and Croatia to make a public commitment at the Malta Ministerial Conference to protect this area from bottom trawling.”

In addition to the Pomo Pit, MedReAct draws attention to eight other priority areas requiring protection measures:

  1. Northern Sicilian Seamounts
  2. Gulf of Lion Slope
  3. Alicante Canyon
  4. Balearic Seamounts
  5. Alboran Sea Seamounts
  6. Western Sardinia Canyons
  7. Southern Ligurian Seamounts
  8. Aegean Sea – the Thracian Sea

Each of these areas is described below.


  1. Northern Sicilian Seamounts. Located off the northwest coast of Sicily, the area includes two seamounts each of about 1000 meters, called Aceste and Drepano, as well as the Ustica ridge and escarpment. Aceste, characterized by the presence of black corals (Antipatharia) and scleractinians (Dendrophyllia cornigera), is an area of high importance for elasmobranchs, especially sharks, and in particular the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) which is relatively numerous in this area, and longnose spurdog (Squalus blainvillei) which is abundant. The southernmost area is located at the entrance to the Strait of Sicily, an essential migratory zone in the Mediterranean, considered a vulnerable area for small pelagic species.
  1. Adriatic Sea Jabuka/Pomo Pit. The area, situated in the central Adriatic at a maximum depth of 200-260m, presents unique geomorphological and oceanographic features. In addition to playing an important role in the overall oceanographic dynamics of the entire Adriatic Sea, it is considered an Essential Fish Habitat, the only one in the central Adriatic, mostly for the reproduction and growth of important Adriatic demersal species, especially European hake (Merluccius merluccius). This area hosts the largest population of Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) and is important especially for juveniles at depths below 200m. It is also a nursery zone for black-bellied angler (Lophius budegassa) and horned octopus (Eledone cirrhosa). Based on an available scientific data it is a high density area for giant devil ray (Mobula mobular) which is an endemic species. The Pit could function as a favorable environment for some key life history stages of the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus), which is critically endangered. Regarding benthic species, several types of corals can be found (Scleractinia, Actiniaria). Although it covers less than 10 percent of the total surface of the Adriatic Sea, this area is one of the most important fishing grounds in the Adriatic for bottom trawling, which puts the fish resources of the entire Adriatic under pressure. Fish populations are threatened by overfishing and high fishing pressure on juveniles. Currently, the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean is considering a proposal to close the Jakuba/Pomo Pit to bottom trawling.
  1. Alicante Canyon. This is one of the largest submarine canyons in Spain’s eastern waters. Located in one of the areas with the widest continental shelf, it is part of one of the main rose shrimp (Parapenaeus longirostris) fishing areas, and thus is strongly impacted by shrimp bottom trawling. This area is an essential habitat and nursery area for the hake (Merluccius merluccius), together with the presence of other associated species (assemblages) in the canyon. Several cetacean species and the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) are also present in the zone. The deepest part of the canyon, located on the eastern side, is a spawning ground for bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). It is considered a sensitive habitat for several elasmobranches species (Etmopterus spinax, Galeus melastomus and Scyliorhinus canicula).
  1. Balearic Seamounts. The area includes four different seamounts: Emile Baudot, Ses Olives, Ausías March and Bell Guyot. Essential habitats (bluefin tuna spawning ground) and sensitive habitats (bamboo coral gardens – Isidella elongata), maërl beds, coralligenous, gorgonian gardens (Muriceides lepida, Swiftia palida, Eunicella verrucosa, Villogorgia brevicoides, Viminella flagelum, Callogorgia verticilata) and black corals (Leiopathes glaberrima, Antipathes dichotoma) have been found. These organisms are particularly threatened by bottom trawling and long-line fishing. The presence of these species is often associated with the presence of commercial species (monkfish, hake, Norway lobster, lobster, octopus, red shrimp) which call for an adequate management. The area is also visited by pelagic species such as swordfish (Xiphias gladius), different dolphin species (Tursiops truncatus, Delphinus delphis), sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) and loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems can also be found in the area.
  1. The Alboran Sea Seamounts. These seamounts, located between the European and African continents in the Alboran Sea, are scattered throughout the area along with the remains of an old volcano rising 15m above sea level, making part of a mountain ridge (Alboran Island). Along the canyons of the Alboran Sea are deep water corals. Hake is one of the most important target species for the trawl fisheries in this area; it is fished at excessively high levels in all trawling areas from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Cape of Gata, including the deep bottom fishing grounds surrounding Alboran Island. Juvenile hakes are caught in more shallow waters of about 50-300m depth, whereas adults are fished at depths of around 800 m, together with the Nephrops norvegicus fishery.
  1. Western Sardinia Canyons. The Catalano and Oristano submarine canyons are located off the east coast of Sardinia and together constitute the most important part of the canyon system surrounding the island. Submarine canyons usually are areas of interest for fisheries, in that they are highly productive zones due to their special hydrodynamics. In this case, fisheries for large pelagic species are present. In these zones one finds various cetacean species, such as Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), and striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), as well as large filter feeders such as basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and giant devil ray (Mobula mobular), which is relatively abundant in these areas. Moreover, at the edge of the slope there are lobster (Palinurus elephas) nurseries.
  1. Southern Ligurian Seamounts. This area includes a series of seamounts (Cialdi, Giglio and Jadul) north of the Tyrrhenian Sea and on the edge of the Pelagos Sanctuary. It is a high primary production area which supports many different shark and ray species (Cetorhinus maximus, Carcharhinus brachyurus, Scyliorhinus canicula, Galeus melastomus, Etmopterus spinax, Raja clavata, Raja asterias). For most of these species, this area serves as a nursery. The six-gilled shark (Hexanchus griseus) and thresher shark (Alopias spp) are also found in this area. In the Cialdi seamount the first submerged micritic limestones were discovered with Acesta excavata associated with corals and polychaetes, including Vermiliopsis monodiscus and Protula sp.
  1. Aegean Sea – The Thracian Sea. This is a disjunct area which covers two areas known as the Strymonian Gulf and the Samotraki Plateau. The Samotraki Plateau and the Strymonian Gulf are two demersal areas located in the north of the Aegean Sea, at a depth of around 180m, and are considered to be spawning grounds for hake. The area is an important fishing ground for bottom trawlers. These activities increase the mortality rates of juveniles of all species in the 180m isobath area of the Thracian Sea. As far as hake is concerned, the nursery and breeding grounds lie mainly in international waters in the Aegean and Thracian Seas.


  • Scientific Information to Describe Areas Meeting Scientific Criteria for Mediterranean EBSAs, Oceana (2014). Link
  • Fisheries conservation and vulnerable ecosystems in the Mediterranean open seas, including the deep seas, de Juan, S. and Lleonart, J. eds. UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA (2010). Link

Download the Press releases in Spanish, Italian and French.



ROMA, 22.11.16 –  Greenpeace, Legambiente e MedReAct esprimono apprezzamento per il piano di recupero del  pesce spada del Mediterraneo approvato ieri dall’ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas). Di particolare rilievo la decisione di stabilire un sistema di quote di pesca con limiti massimi di cattura annuali e misure di tutela degli esemplari giovanili, sebbene la quota stabilita attualmente sia troppa alta per garantire il recupero dello stock. L’esperienza della pesca al tonno rosso – gestita sempre dall’ICCAT – e la mancanza di una efficace applicazione del divieto sulle reti derivanti, hanno già dimostrato che, per eliminare l’illegalità, queste misure sono inutili se adottate in assenza di controlli efficaci e di decisioni coraggiose per ridurre la pesca.

Da decenni il pesce spada versa in condizioni critiche e le misure adottate finora per ridurre lo sforzo di pesca e combattere l’illegalità sono state inefficaci. Dopo anni di pressioni da parte delle organizzazioni ambientaliste e degli esperti scientifici, la decisione dell’ICCAT di adottare un sistema di  quote di pesca accende ora una speranza. Fino a ieri l’unica specie del Mediterraneo soggetta a quote di cattura annuali era il tonno rosso e grazie agli sforzi intrapresi si cominciano a vedere i primi effetti positivi e un lieve recupero dello stock.

«L’approvazione di questo piano di recupero, pur essendo apprezzabile, arriva con anni di colpevole ritardo e temiamo che il piano sia poco ambizioso, vista l’urgenza della situazione. Lo strumento delle quote funziona se ripartito in modo sostenibile tra le flotte, se lo sforzo e la capacità di pesca vengono ridotte e se tale sistema viene adeguatamente sostenuto da un sistema efficace di controlli», dichiarano  Greenpeace, Legambiente e MedReAct. «Adesso devono essere rispettati gli obiettivi di riduzione dello sforzo di pesca richiesti dalla comunità scientifica e gli Stati devono impegnarsi nella corretta applicazione delle misure per limitare la pesca illegale, vera piaga di questa attività».

L’Italia è responsabile per circa il 45 per cento delle catture totali di pesce spada nel Mediterraneo Un’attività dal grande valore economico e commerciale, che però assegna al nostro Paese anche maggiori responsabilità nella gestione della risorsa. L’Italia  però non è ancora riuscita a eliminare l’illegalità che, come dimostrano le cronache, dilaga nella pesca e nel commercio ittico. Per tutelare lo stock e l’economia del settore occorre al più presto un approccio rigoroso alla gestione della risorsa.

In Italia sono ben 849 i pescherecci autorizzati a pescare il pesce spada. Per una risorsa così scarsa sono troppi, così come sono troppi i pescherecci noti per aver commesso infrazioni. Per le organizzazioni ambientaliste, chi ha pescato illegalmente in passato non deve essere più autorizzato a pescare il pesce spada: è un principio elementare, a tutela dei pescatori onesti.

«È assurdo che le associazioni dei pescatori, che ben conoscono il problema e per decenni hanno fatto orecchie da mercante, si lamentino per quanto deciso dall’ICCAT. Ci aspettiamo invece più coraggio e più coscienza da parte di tutti, politici e pescatori», concludono Greenpeace, Legambiente e MedReAct».

Foto: Francesco Cabras

MedReAct contribution to the Western Mediterranean multi annual management plan

MedReAct contributionIn May 2016 the European Commission launched a public consultation on the Multiannual plan for the fisheries exploiting demersal stocks in the Western Mediterranean Sea.

Fish stocks in the Mediterranean are in a critical situation and some are on the verge of collapse. According to the most recent assessments, 93% of demersal fish stocks in the Western Mediterranean Sea are overfished.

The aim of the Commission’s consultation  is to contribute to  the achievement of the Common Fisheries Policy objectives, in particular the long term sustainability of fish stocks and the implementation of the ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management.

MedReAct welcomes this public consultation and the opportunity  to provide  its  views and recommendations to improve the state of demersal fish stocks and of marine ecosystems critical to their recovery.

  •  MedReAct contribution available here.
  •  More information on the public consultation available here.
  •  The latest review of the State of Fish stocks in the Mediterranean here.

Did you observe Jellyfish Blooms in the Mediterranean? Report it!

MedReAct’s member Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation is a partner of CIESM – The Mediterranean Science Commission JELLYWATCH program, which for the first time gathers baseline data on the frequency and extent of jellyfish outbreaks across the Mediterranean Sea.

The participation in this program enables an unbiased assessment of geographic and temporal scale of mass jellyfish events, allowing time trend analysis and short term forecasting of jellyfish bloom occurrence. The active contribution of the local communities across the Mediterranean, which provide us with information on jellyfish blooms, is an invaluable asset for the success of this monitoring effort.

If you did observed Jellyfish Blooms in the Mediterranean? Report it at


How do Jellyfish Blooms affect us?

In simple terms, jellyfish blooms are growing – and stresses caused by human activity such as overfishing are considered to be the most likely cause. Fisheries-based ecosystems are frequently overfished, and taking too many fish out of ecosystems creates ecological space for jellyfish to thrive, influencing both fisheries productivity but also tourism.

Promoting Fish Recovery in Albania

13177547_871258799686795_4233799563262271787_nThanks to the support from the WAITT Foundation, MedReAct and the Association for Protection of Aquatic Wildlife of Albania (APAWA),  are jointly working to promote fish recovery in the only    Albanian Marine Protected Area of Karaburun – Sazan.

This Project is based on the scientific findings of the WAITT Institute Marine Expedition carried out in  Albania in June 2015,   on national fisheries statistics and catch data from the fishermen community in Vlora.

The results from these activities were presented on May 13th, 2016 at a workshop organized in Vlora with  national and international experts from European institutions and organizations engaged on fisheries, aquaculture or the protection of marine ecosystems.



Devolvi il 5×1000 a MedReAct Onlus, associazione attivamente impegnata nella tutela del Mar Mediterraneo. Basta firmare il riquadro Sostegno alle organizzazione lucrative di utilità sociale” della dichiarazione dei redditi e inserire nello spazio “Codice Fiscale del Beneficiario”, il C.F di MedReAct: 97809490580. Non ti costerà nulla in più di quanto pagheresti come contribuente.


Mediterraneo troppo sfruttato: stock ittici a rischio per l’eccesso di pesca.


Il 96% degli stock ittici dell’UE nel Mediterraneo è troppo sfruttato, e la pressione  supera fino a nove volte il rendimento massimo sostenibile (RMS ovvero numero di catture possibili  senza compromettere la sopravvivenza della specie). In particolare merluzzo, triglia, rana pescatrice e melù, oltrepassano la soglia di sostenibilità di ben sei volte. Sono queste le conclusioni raggiunte da MedReAct (organizzazione che promuove azioni di recupero della biodiversità marina nel Mediterraneo), sulla base dei dati del comitato scientifico sulla pesca dell’Unione Europea (STEFC – Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries). «Bisogna intervenire subito per combattere la pesca illegale nel Mediterraneo, ridurre lo sforzo di pesca, adottare piani di recupero per le specie  più a rischio e chiudere le aree di nursery per periodi di tempo idonei al ripopolamento» ha dichiarato la portavoce dell’organizzazione, Domitilla Senni…

Continuare a leggere:

Joint NGO Statement

Joint NGO Statement to the “High Level Seminar on the state of stocks in the Mediterranean and on the CFP approach”

Catania, 9-10 February 2016

Sin títuloMediterranean Sea fish stocks are in a dramatic situation with 96% of European assessed stocks in the region reported as overexploited [1]. The reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) requires the EU to end overfishing by 2015 or at the latest by 2020 in order to ensure the recovery of fish stocks. To achieve this objective EU Mediterranean member states must address and reverse the political inaction that has characterized their fisheries management.

Considering that EU multiannual plans for the Mediterranean will only be adopted and implemented in the medium-term, immediate emergency and recovery measures are required.

On the occasion of the “High Level Seminar on the Status of the Stocks in the Mediterranean and on the CFP Approach”, Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, Fundació ENT, Greenpeace, Legambiente, Marevivo, MedReAct and Oceana call on the European Commission and Mediterranean EU member states to immediately adopt emergency measures to halt overfishing and recover stocks in the Mediterranean Sea, in order to prepare and introduce the following priority longer term actions:

  • Establish emergency measures and recovery plans for those EU stocks for which fishing mortality has reached unsustainable levels, such as for hake and small pelagic stocks;
  • Promote in the context of ICCAT a recovery plan for Mediterranean swordfish;
  • Set catch and effort limits based on the available scientific advice and ensure that exploitation rates are commensurate with recovering fish stock populations above MSY biomass levels;
  • Take appropriate measures to balance fishing capacity with the real fishing opportunities in order to stop overfishing by 2020 at the very latest;
  • Protect sensitive areas such as nurseries, spawning grounds and vulnerable marine ecosystems through spatial measures (no-take areas and marine reserves);
  • Strengthen control activities at sea and on land and implement dissuasive sanctions;
  • Establish or update the minimum conservation reference size (MCRS) for all EU commercial stocks, in line with the scientific advice and consistent with biological targets; and
  • Fully enforce the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) conditionality clause, according to which operators engaged in illegal activities would not have access to fisheries subsidies.

[1] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council Concerning a consultation on Fishing Opportunities for 2015 under the Common Fisheries Policy.

To download the pdf: Joint NGO Statement