The MedΒycatch Project

ΜedBycatch  – “Understanding Mediterranean Multi-taxa Bycatch of Vulnerable Species and Testing  Mitigation. A Collaborative Approach”

The incidental capture of vulnerable species in fishing gear (also known as ‘bycatch’) is a key conservation issue in the Mediterranean for a number of taxonomic groups, including sea turtles, sea birds, cetaceans and seals, sharks and rays and corals & sponges.

The MedBycatch project works to provide knowledge, skills and tools for the following high level result to be achieved: By 2022 the impact of selected fishing gears on vulnerable species and habitats is reduced in three separate geographic areas of the Mediterranean Sea (Alboran Sea; Sicily Channel; Central Aegean & Levantine Basin). On-the ground activities take place in Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey.

Within the MedBycatch project, robust data is collected in a harmonized way to allow comparison across the Mediterranean. National teams of observers have been mobilised and trained to work with the fishers, to obtain reliable information. Moreover changes to fishing gears are going to be identified and tested for their effectiveness to mitigate single and multi-taxa bycatch.

The MedBycatch project promotes a collaborative approach towards reducing bycatch of vulnerable species. Bycatch is unintentional and a problem for both fishers and marine vulnerable species. Fishers suffer damage to their fishing gear, reduced quality of target catch and fuel loss, while placing vulnerable species at high risk. Therefore the collaboration of fishers is of crucial importance. We work with fisheries institutes, local NGOs ,  individual fishers, fishing associations and other relevant stakeholders to raise awareness and  leverage change on the problem of bycatch. Through targeted policy and communication activities all relevant stakeholders and general audiences are informed about the problem of bycatch in the Mediterranean. In addition, fisheries management and fisheries policy across the focal countries are strengthened.

What is our Role?

ΜEDASSET’s role within this collaborative project is  to coordinate any issue relating to sea turtle bycatch. In particular, MEDASSET participates in the scientific committee providing insight regarding sea turtle bycatch and conservation status and coordinates national partners (DEKAMER and WWF Turkey) in Turkey for the observer programme of on‐board observations, port surveys and mitigation trials while contributing to the data analysis. MEDASSET supports all relevant partners in fishing gear assessment and in identifying the bycatch hotspots for sea turtles in the Mediterranean.

MEDASSET actively participates in the training of observers on data collection and fishermen on self-reporting. Furthermore, MEDASSET reports on the socioeconomic background of fishermen in the countries of interest, providing guidelines for interviewing the fishermen, supporting and contributing to advocacy activities focusing in sea turtle previsions. In addition, MEDASSET implements communication activities to leverage awareness and interest in “Bycatch” issue and to increase the project’s outreach, with the cooperation of all project partners.

Νumbers are indicative of the importance and the magnitude of the project!

Understanding Mediterranean multi-taxa bycatch of vulnerable species and testing mitigation – Phase 2 (MedBycatch Phase 2)

The second phase of the MedBycatch project (July 2020-October 2022) aims to build on the results from the successful implementation of the observation programmes during the first phase (September 2017-June 2020) and to push forward to reduce bycatch in the Mediterranean, by testing mitigation tools and techniques.

Εxpansion to Croatia and Italy

Our survey efforts have expanded to Croatia and Italy (Adriatic Sea) for the second phase of the project, now covering five Mediterranean countries: Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Croatia and Italy.

Testing effective Mitigation techniques

Our objective for the second phase of the observation programmes is not only to collect robust data with respect to bycatch of vulnerable species in the Mediterranean, but also to move forward by identifying and testing for the methods/technical solutions to mitigate incidental catches of vulnerable species. Existing mitigation tools, such as circular hooks for longline fishing, turtle excluder devices (TEDs) for trawlers and LED lights for static nets will be tested for their efficiency per taxa and fishing gear. As well as modifications to fishing techniques, such as deployment methods and gear set ups will also be assessed in terms of their effectiveness.’

Provide policy recommendations for the development of national and regional strategies that will address bycatch in the Mediterranean successfully

Through the collaboration with fishers in the collection of observed data, we can evoke change. That is why MedBycatch project is of such importance. Convincing the decision makers that change is necessary through robust data and policy recommendations can lead to stronger national and regional laws.

Building capacity on the fishing community

Bycatch is a problem for fishers too. It reduces the quality of target catch and destroys fishing gear. We train and support fishers on bycatch mitigation methods and safe releasing techniques to protect vulnerable species and marine biodiversity.

The MedBycatch Approach

MedBycatch is all about collaboration. A win win situation. Protecting biodiversity means healthy marine ecosystems and sustainable fisheries. Through targeted communication activities, we raise awareness on the bycatch issue both to key stakeholders (professional fishers, fishing associations etc) and to general audiences. We support and encourage replication of our approach across the Mediterranean.

What is our Role?

MEDASSET, in the framework of this collaborative project, will lead the overall coordination of all national partners in Turkey (WWF Turkey, DEKAMER, Doga Dernegi and TUDAV ). We will actively contribute to the implementation of field activities in Turkey, such as the observer program (on-board observations and port-surveys) and mitigation trials. Additionally, we will collaborate with national partners in advocacy activities (engaging the fishing industry and decision makers towards sustainable fisheries) and communication activities in order to increase the project’s outreach in Turkey.

MEDASSET will also be leading the communication activities of the project, horizontally, for all Mediterranean countries. This means steering the creation of the project’s Communication Strategy and Action Plan and ensuring the on time implementation of agreed activities.

Having an expertise in sea turtle conservation, MEDASSET will continue to lead any issue related to sea turtles in the framework of the project. This includes providing insights regarding sea turtle bycatch within the Scientific Committee and contributing to data collection and analysis in the frame of the on-board observations and mitigation trials.

Last but not least, MEDASSET will continue to support GFCM and relevant partners with fleet assessment and bycatch hotspots identification for sea turtles in the Mediterranean, while also contributing to policy activities at GFCM and EU level led by Birdlife and WWF Med.

Onboard Observations > 300
Port-based Questionnaires > 6.000
Number of Ports monitored > 43 in Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia

*Numbers correspond to Phase 1 of the project

Seven organisations collaborate for the implementation of Medbycatch project across the Mediterranean: Birldlife Europe & Central Asia, FAO, IUCN, ACCOBAMS RAC/SPA, WWF Med and MEDASSET.                                                                                                                                 Funded by: 

MedBycatch Project

  • Country CroatiaItalyMoroccoTunisiaTurkey
  • Approach AwarenessResearch
  • Theme Fisheries

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