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SATURN: anti-trawling system off the Sinis MPA, in Sardinia

Anti-trawling systems have been positioned off the Sinis coast this week to inhibit and prevent illegal trawling in the Sinis Peninsula - Mal Di Ventre Island Marine Protected Area, in Sardinia.  


In recent days, the “PIN” company on behalf of Tecnoreef, with the aid of a pontoon, has positioned about sixty bollards, submerged at a depth of about 35 meters on the sandy bottom. The barriers will prevent illegal trawling practice in the marine protected area (already forbidden as well as near the coast and less than 3 miles away). 


The activity - as regulated by an ordinance of the Oristano Port Authority of last November - falls within the SATURN project - Anti-Trawling Structures for the Protection and Natural Restoration in the Marine Protected Area of the Sinis Peninsula - Mal di Ventre. The project, coordinated by the MEDSEA Foundation together with the Pescando Flag of Central Western Sardinia, in collaboration with the Sinis Peninsula – Mal di Ventre Island Marine Protected Area, was financed by ARGEA with FEAMP 2014-2020 funds for a value of approximately 300 thousand EUR 


This is the first example of this type on the island. “Trawling is one of the types of fishing that causes the greatest damage in the seabeds - explains Francesca Frau, manager of sea projects at the MEDSEA Foundation - which is why it is regulated in marine protected areas. Trawl nets have the ability to remove all that is present on the seabed, from Posidonia oceanica meadows to coral reefs, protected habitats, essential for our sea: once all this is removed, it does not have the ability to regenerate and cannot get recovered”. 


SATURN, in addition to being the first example of anti-trawl barriers on the island that aims to inhibit illegal activities through underwater bollards, in support of regular checks, is also the first example of self-protection starting from reports from the local community and fishermen. 


“We focus a lot as Flag on the cultural message that the project conveys - adds Sandro Murana, president of Flag Pescando - . We have based our overall strategy on the idea that artisanal fishing operators are the first true defenders of our sea. The Saturn project represents the confirmation of this principle. The interest in sustainability is felt primarily by fishermen, who are the first to pay the consequences of a predatory and unregulated approach to the sea resource. Together with them we are continuing to plan trajectories of sustainable economic development, the real bet to ensure a future of social well-being for our territories". 


The Mediterranean Sea, also from recent scientific data* - is still strongly threatened by illegal trawling practices, in Italy alone there are over 5000 documented hours of illegal trawling in protected areas, a country that occupies the first position among the EU in infringements. 


“The Mediterranean is a sea that has reached the limit as regards the fishing effort especially for industrial fishing practices, including trawling - explains Massimo Marras, director of the Marine Protected Area of the Sinis Peninsula - Mal di Ventre - . This has increased pressures along marine protected areas with better conditions. With SATURN we defend ourselves from these pressures and protect our protected marine area from the threats of illegal fishing both from the point of view of its environmental heritage but also from the socio-economic point of view, for the benefit of artisanal fishing, the only one allowed in the marine area protected". 


“The installation of anti-trawl barriers on the seabed is an action already widely adopted by other protected marine areas - adds Guido Beltrami, agronomist and project manager for the positioning of anti-trawl structures at sea on behalf of MEDSEA - with a reduction of trawling detected up to 80%: by protecting the Posidonia seabeds, we safeguard the conditions of reproduction and growth of the fauna present just as if we were recreating "nurseries" or nurseries". 


In parallel with the installation of the bollards, a communication will tell all the various tages of SATURN up to the monitoring during 2023, by the IAS-CNR Oristano. “If we record a revitalization of marine environments, the outcome and results will be the subject of discussion for the next projects”, concludes Mauro Tuzzolino, Director of the FLAG “PESCANDO - Central Western Sardinia”. 


*AIS 2019 data processing, Oceana source 


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