As the temperatures are rising and the winter months are coming to an end, an increasing number of people are planning to spending more and more time at sea. Wether you are heading out for a weekend sail with family and friends or you work at sea, you can help Save The Med protect it while out there. If you’ve been following the latest news in marine conservation, you may have heard of the term “Ghost FADs”. If you enjoy spending time at sea, you may even have come across a few of them while navigating, but weren’t necessarily quite sure what they were.
“Ghost FADs” are a type of abandoned, rudimentary fishing gear, often made up of plastic bottles and fishing line. They can be easily spotted as coloured bottles, bobbing up and down in the water. It’s a sight our crew knows too well.
While monitoring the waters around Mallorca, Save The Med has encountered a shocking number of these drifting artefacts. Unfortunately, they are a death trap for species like loggerhead turtles, who curiously approach the floating gear in search of food and become badly entangled. Last season alone, shipboard surveys on our flagship vessel have retrieved over 100 such artefacts, while Fundación Palma Aquarium cared for a record number of entangled turtles.
Besides being one of the greatest threats to marine biodiversity, abandoned fishing gear is a hazard for safe navigation and for divers. It is also often associated with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices (IUU), and therefore becomes a threat to artisanal fishing fleets.
It was therefore out of absolute necessity that Save The Med’s “Mediterranean Ghost FAD” project was born: a collaborative initiative to help study, recover and reduce this hazard. We are building a Mediterranean wide network and fleet of sailors, yachts, dive centres, rescue centres and fishing boats - each involved in the stewardship of our seas. And you can join too! All who join will receive useful protocols on how to safely rescue entangled turtles at sea, and how to collect and send us essential data about drifting ghost gear found along the route.
Although the project is still relatively new, it already counts on the partnership of key local organisations such as Ports IB, Balearic Port Authority, Balearic Fisheries Federation, Fundación Palma Aquariums marine animal rescue center and more! The conservation of sea turtles has global significance and recently, the project partnered with Accobams, an important European agreement for the protection of Mediterranean biodiversity.
Other project partners have an international range and include players such as OceanCare, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Proyecto Libera and Fundación Reina Sofia. Furthermore, Save The Med is part of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, the world’s largest cross-sectoral alliance to help solve ghost fishing. And now, we’re calling out to all Mediterranean seafarers to lend a hand!
Joining the network is simple and free of charge, which means that YOU can immediately become part of the solution to ghost fishing gear! To find out more about the project visit http://ghostfads.org and register to become part of the fleet, receive the latest, news, updates and resources!
If you want to see things for yourself and meet the team, Save The Med will be running some open-air exhibition days on-board our research vessel Toftevaag throughout 2021. More information is to come!
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