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1.3 Million Tons – That’s how many marine fish (and other organisms) are discarded and dumped overboard (dead most often than not) by EU fishermen every year.

OCEANA discardsThe amount of waste, which represents 13% of the total catch, is difficult to fathom, and even more so at a time when we are fighting so hard to end overfishing and push for sustainable fisheries.

The discard issue has rightfully been all over the news in the past few weeks – from Hugh’s fish fight to  concerns over how a ban on discards would affect the industry.

Bet you never thought a sea slug could ever be stunning. This photo of a nudibranch (or sea slug) was taken during one of our expeditions in the Mediterranean off the coast of Alicante, Spain.

Every time we send our photographers into the depths, we are amazed at the incredible diversity of marine organisms they are able to capture with their lenses. That is why we work so hard to push for Marine Protected Areas – so we can help preserve the rich biodiversity of Europe’s waters.

SeahorseWe found this little guy in Galicia, Spain during our 2008 at-sea Oceana Ranger expedition.

Here’s a fun fact about seahorses: the males are the ones who get pregnant and seahorse babies are born inside the male pouch.

But here are some not so fun facts about seahorses, which are fished for use in traditional medicines throughout Asia and aquariums: Overfishing, pollution, climate change and habitat depletion have severely depleted seahorse populations.

The 2004 CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) convention provided international protection to seahorses  by setting a minimum catch size allowing them to reproduce while allowing some fishing - though Indonesia, Japan, Norway, and South Korea opted out of the trade rules at the time.

JaizkibelFor years we’ve been fighting to protect a large marine area in the Basque region called Jaizkibel – our objective is to create a marine ecological corridor between San Sebastian and Biarritz for inclusion in the Natura 2000 network.

It’s been a long struggle, especially because there are plans to build a port in the area – a move that would endanger thousands of marine communities, species and habitats.

But we’ve just received a bit of good news – The Basque parliament has approved a motion calling on the government of the autonomous region to take a year to study the proposal that we submitted in partnership with COBE, and assess the possibility of creating the marine protected area.

Caretta carettaWe’ve decided to start a new tradition on this blog: every Friday, we’ll share with you a picture of some of the amazing flora and fauna we are fighting so hard to protect and give you a little background on the threats it is facing. We have the advantage of having a terrific team of photographers who participate in our at-sea expeditions, so we might as well use it to help our supporters better understand what we’re doing.

Meet “turtle” – we found him swimming near the surface of the water off the coast of Sardinia, Italy.

Endangered turtles are often caught unintentionally, as bycatch by fishing vessels using nets, including driftnets, that don’t discriminate. Driftnets were banned by the EU in 2002, but unfortunately not all fleets are abiding by the rule. As recently as last year, Oceana’s team of observers found vessels in the port of Bagnara Calabra (in Italy) that were still using the gear.

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