Oceana researchers will sail in the Mediterranean for six months on board the oceanographic vessel “MarViva Med”, documenting illegal fishing activities and promoting the creation of marine protected areas.
Only 48 hours after the Oceana Ranger catamaran departed Valencia towards the Atlantic to begin its expedition in Galicia and the Cantabrian Sea, Oceana simultaneously begins a Mediterranean expedition in Palma de Mallorca on board the research vessel “MarViva Med”. The six-month initiative, carried out in collaboration with the MarViva Foundation, will focus on issues related to illegal fishing and the identification of marine areas that need protection for their ecological values.
The “MarViva Med” is a 42-metre vessel that has been serving the marine research institutes of the governments of Northern Ireland and Scotland. The vessel was recently modified for the campaign work carried out by the international marine conservation organisation, Oceana.
The new vessel’s crew consists of 11 sailors and 12 scientists and technicians. Oceanographers specialised in fisheries and marine habitats will also sail on board the vessel, as well as a team of professional divers equipped with video and photography equipment, and a robot with capacity to carry out deep sea dives down to 500 metres depth. The vessel is also equipped with high-speed rubber dinghies and equipment for sending images via satellite. It can remain at sea for long periods of time without the need to refuel.
During the campaign, the team on board the “MarViva Med” will carry out the following tasks:
• Document overfishing and illegal fishing of bluefin tuna, if detected, in different areas of the Mediterranean by French, Italian, Spanish, Libyan and Turkish fleets.
• Verify that the 92 French vessels reported by Oceana in 2007 for using illegal driftnets to catch immature bluefin tuna are no longer using this gear.
• Expose the illegal activity of the 137 Italian driftnetters, now taking shelter almost exclusively in the ports of Sicily and Catania, that continue using these banned nets to catch swordfish .
• Film and photograph the sea bed in areas that should be declared Marine Protected Areas, especially in the Balearic Islands and around Malta, Sicily and Libya, as well as show the impact of bottom trawling nets on marine ecosystems.
• Report the illegal activities of trawlers, mainly Spanish and Italian, in areas where this gear is prohibited or whose catch consists of fish that are under the minimum size standards.
• Verify the situation of the Moroccan driftnetter fleet fishing illegally in the Alboran Sea. The Moroccan government made a commitment to convert this fleet to other types of gear by the end of 2008.
“This ambitious project on board the MarViva Med is a continuation of the campaigns Oceana has carried out on board the Ranger catamaran since 2005. Our objective is to show the lack of control displayed by the different EU governments over their fishing fleets, which are depleting fish stocks in the Mediterranean and destroying highly valuable marine habitats," declared marine biologist Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe and director of the expedition.