Τhe “Medbycatch” project works on gathering robust data & providing scientific methods for mitigating incidental catch in the Mediterranean Region
The “Medbycatch” project under the title “Understanding Mediterranean multi‐taxa ‘bycatch’ of vulnerable species and testing mitigation ‐ a collaborative approach”, takes place in the Alboran Sea, Sicily Strait/Tunisian Plateau, Central Aegean & Levantine Basin, while on the ground work focuses on three countries: Tunisia, Morocco and Turkey. The project studies the incidental capture of vulnerable species in fishing gear also known as ‘bycatch” which is a key conservation issue in the Mediterranean for a number of taxonomic groups, including sea turtles, marine mammals, seabirds, elasmobranchs, corals and sponges. The “Medbycatch” project also focuses on four different types of fishing gear: demersal trawl, static nets, longlines and purse seiners (purse seiners only in Morocco).
MEDASSET (Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles) and Birdlife Europe & Central Asia are coordinating the research and advocacy activities implemented in Turkey by WWF Turkey, Doğa (Birdlife Turkey) and DEKAMER. The “Medbycatch” project is funded by MAVA foundation and six (6) direct partners are collaborating for the implementation of the project across the Mediterranean: Birdlife Europe & Asia, ACCOBAMS, RAC/SPA, IUCN, GFCM and MEDASSET.
Bycatch incidents are unintentional and constitute a problem for fishers and a threat for marine vulnerable species. Fishers suffer from economic loss such as gear damage, quality of target catch and time loss, while the population of vulnerable species is affected by fisheries interactions. In order to scientifically study “bycatch” incidents in the Mediterranean region and implement mitigation measures to reduce them, the “Med Bycatch” project undertakes the following actions:
- Develop and train national teams of bycatch experts, comprising staff from national institutions, universities and NGOs.
- Collect robust data on incidental capture of vulnerable species through port visits, questionnaires and on board work to record bycatch.
- Awareness raising on incidental capture of vulnerable species and capacity building in all relevant stakeholders (fishing industry, professional fishers, National and Local Control Authorities including Ministries and Port Authorities, Scientists and Researchers, MPA managers, NGO’s).
- Testing of mitigation measures, including implementation and monitoring of possible methods and tools in identified fisheries and countries.
The “Medbycatch” project in Turkey covers more than 1,070.00 km of Turkish coastline from Foca to Mersin and three types of methodologies are being implemented for data collection: port-based questionnaires, on-board observations and fishers self-sampling. A total number of 19 ports across Turkey will be monitored during the project with respect to the “bycatch” issue.
The onboard vessel observations are taking place on polyvalent and trawl vessels. A total number of 92 polyvalent and trawl vessels will be observed during the project in order for concrete data to be collected. Additionally, port-based interviews to fishers are taking place and more than 2.150 questionnaires will be obtained, data will be analyzed and statistical analysis will be provided The Turkish team of observers consist of 13 scientists specially trained on the incidental capture.
Additionally policy and communication activities are taking place in order to raise awareness and build capacity among all relevant stakeholders on bycatch. Within this framework three policy meetings with Turkish key stakeholders have taken place: a) Meeting at office of Central Union of Fisheries Cooperatives in Ankara on January 7th 2019. b) Meeting with representatives of regional fisheries cooperatives in İzmir, on January 24th 2019 c) Meeting with representatives of the fisheries cooperatives in Mersin, on February 28th 2019.
Additionally the first photo exhibition of the “Medbycatch” project took place between 17–22 May in Mersin Turkey in the framework of the 19th Turkey Bird Conference (photo 3).
The “Medbycatch” project is bringing fishers and scientists together to reduce incidental capture of vulnerable species across the Mediterranean.
MEDASSET’s Project Officer Konstantina Andreanidou stated: “For the first time in a multi-taxa approach, Medbycatch project comes to tackle the magnitude of the bycatch issue on marine vulnerable species and habitats across the Mediterranean.”
Notes to Editors:
 With roots back to 1983, MEDASSET was founded in 1988 in the UK and in 1993 in Greece. It is an international NGO registered as a not-for profit organisation in Greece. MEDASSET plays an active role in the study and conservation of sea turtles and their habitats throughout the Mediterranean, through scientific research, environmental education, advocacy and awareness raising. The organisation is a partner to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) and a Permanent Observer-Member to the Bern Convention, Council of Europe, since 1988.