Under the MAVA funded regional project “Medbycatch – Understanding Mediterranean Multi- Taxa Bycatch and Testing Mitigation: A Collaborative Approach”, known as the “Medbycatch” project, MEDASSET coordinates the project’s activities in Turkey, in collaboration with Birdlife Europe & Central Asia and our national partners, WWF Turkey, Doga Dernegi, DEKAMER and TUDAV. The Medbycatch project promotes a collaborative approach towards reducing bycatch of vulnerable species by engaging various stakeholders (fishers, scientists, decision –makers etc).
The project entered its second phase in July 2020 and will continue until the end of October 2022. One of the key tasks is the training of the observers to ensure strong working relationships with the local fishers and the collection of accurate data for the incidences of bycaught of vulnerable species.
This is the second training workshop organized in Turkey in the framework of this project and due to the Corona pandemic, was organized online on 19th – 21th November 2020. The three-day workshop triggered the official start of the observer programme for the second phase of the project. National partners, fisheries experts, candidate and current observers, official Ministry representatives, and other stakeholders collaborating to implement the Medbycatch project in the Mediterranean participated in the workshop.
Fundamental to the collection of data for the bycatch issue is the accurate identification of vulnerable species, incidentally caught in fishing gears during fishing operations. Specialists for each of the focused taxonomic groups, namely sea turtles, cetaceans, elasmobranchs, sea birds, corals and sponges, provided their expertise on species morphology, their behavior, safe handling and release techniques and appropriate bycatch mitigation measures.
The Turkish National Focal Point, responsible for the collection of data presented the “Medbycatch Data Collection Protocol” to the observers, which was followed by a questions and answers session for the methodology, data entry and data reporting. Another important aspect of the observers’ training was gaining knowledge on the Turkish fishing fleets, their fishing operations, the different gears used, species targeted, as well as observer’s on-board behavior and safety procedures. Complimenting this aspect of the training, the final session gave the opportunity for the observers from Phase one of the project to share and discuss their experiences from on–board observations and port-based questionnaires, and to provide valuable insights on the engagement and relationship building with fishers.
The Medbycatch project is being implemented in the Mediterranean waters of Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy and Croatia in collaboration with six other direct partners: Birdlife Europe & Central Asia, ACCOBAMS, SPA/RAC, MEDASSET. WWF Mediterranean, IUCN and GFCM. The project is funded by MAVA Foundation.