The incidental capture of vulnerable species in fishing gear (also known generically as ‘bycatch’) is a key conservation issue in the Mediterranean for a number of taxonomic groups, including sea turtles, cetaceans and seals, seabirds, and elasmobranchs.
This project will work on providing skills, tools and means towards achieving the following high level result: By 2022 the impacts of selected fisheries on priority species and habitats are reduced in three separate geographies (Alboran Sea; Sicily Channel; Central Aegean & Levantine Basin). The on-the ground activities will focus on developing and implementing standardised data collection of bycatch and testing mitigation measures for their effectiveness in reducing single and multi-taxa bycatch. They will involve collaborations between national fisheries institutes, local NGOs and fishers and fishing associations and plans, to leverage change and provide benefits within all of the coastal Mediterranean countries on the issue of bycatch, specifically through communication and advocacy activities with the fishing industries and decision makers.
MEDASSET’s role within this collaborative project will be to lead/coordinate any issue relating to sea turtle bycatch. In particular, MEDASSET will participate in the scientific committee providing insight regarding sea turtle bycatch and conservation status, and in the observer programme contributing to the data collection and analysis during the on-board, the port surveys and the mitigation trials. MEDASSET will support GFCM and relevant partners in fleet assessment, in identifying the bycatch hotspots for sea turtles in the Mediterranean. It will also contribute to preparing the port and on-board multi-taxa observer programme, providing expertise in relation to sea turtles. MEDASSET will actively participate in the training of observer programme staff and to training of fishermen in self-reporting. Furthermore, it will report on the socioeconomic background of fishermen in the countries of interest, provide guidelines for interviewing the fishermen, support and contribute to advocacy activities focusing in sea turtle previsions and BIRDLIFE’s communication campaign. MEDASSET will directly sub-contract local NGOs to carry out the multi-taxa observer programme in Turkey.