After joining the Oceana Ranger crew for the early stages of the campaign to track down illegal fleets, Miguel Bose calls on the governments of Italy and France to immediately enforce European legislation banning driftnets.
Miguel Bose participated for a week in the actitivities of Oceana, the international conservation organisation. The singer joined the catamaran, Oceana Ranger, during its stay in the Corsican harbour of Bastia, to work with its crew of biologists, divers and campaigners.
He joined the Ranger directly from Peru where, for the previous weeks, he had been participating in a campaign to support the claims of the cotton farmers in that country.
On board, Bose was a full member of the international crew, participating in all the boat tasks. He also took part in great number of underwater dives, together with the Oceana divers, to document the state of Mediterranean ecosystems, such as sea grass prairies, and coral and gorgonia seabeds. Oceana is working to ensure that these habitats are protected by the European Union through legislation scheduled to be revised next year.
However, the issue occupying most of Miguel Bose’s time, along with the rest of the Ranger’s crew, is the organisation’s campaign against driftnets. It is well documented that over a hundred Italian vessels and dozens of French vessels are defying the United Nations ban and European Union legislation and continue to use driftnets to catch swordfish.
These “curtains of death” can be up to 20 km long and 30 metres high and fish large numbers of the target species, leading to their overexploitation. But they also entrap a huge amount of other marine animals, killing thousands of dolphins, sperm whales, sharks and sea turtles. Many of these species are protected by international legislation.
Miguel Bose was particularly concerned about this illegal activity. “European laws should be enforced. I call on European citizens to support Oceana in the pressure we are exercing on the Italian and French governments, so that they stop the activities of these illegal fleets,” stated the musician on board the Ranger as it departed the Italian island of Elba to continue the search for driftnetters. “Driftnets should be removed from our seas now!” he added.
Since the EU driftnet ban was agreed, the Italian fishing industry received more than two million euros to stop using these nets or to convert to other, more environmentally friendly fishing gear. But Oceana proved, during its investigations in 2005 on board the Ranger, that many of the vessel owners pocketed the money and continued to use these illegal driftnets.
Oceana recently began a new expedition to document the illegal fishing activities of this fleet. The Ranger is searching in Italian harbours and the surrounding seas, travelling as far as the Spanish Balearic Islands, where every year dead sperm whales have been washed up on the beaches after been trapped in Italian driftnets.
For the international conservation organisation, the support of Miguel Bose is very important. “Miguel is a committed defender of the oceans. He has studied its problems extensively and knows the issues well”, said Xavier Pastor, the oceanographer leading the expedition. “Miguel’s Italian links, along with his popularity and credibility in this country will help us to get our message across to its citizens and government”, says Xavier Pastor, Director of Oceana in Europe.