Jairo Mediterraneo Campaign Wrap: First-Year Assessment

mardi, 10 Oct, 2017

The Jairo Mediterraneo Campaign just ended. It involved 78 volunteers who patrolled the beaches along the Cilento coast to spot Caretta caretta (loggerhead sea turtle) nests and keep them safe in partnership with the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn and the ENPA (National Animal Protection Organization) chapter of Salerno. The M/V Sam Simon was also a part of the campaign in the waters of the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea with her crew composed of 25 people from six different countries. Jairo Med’s goal is to defend the Caretta caretta (loggerhead sea turtle), the most widespread sea turtle in the Mediterranean which is heavily subjected to threats and in danger of becoming extinct.

Sea Shepherd volunteers working with the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn. Photo Sea Shepherd.

The 2017 assessment:

- On-land patrolling: 78 volunteers who totaled 2,352 hours of patrolling. During that span of time, they spotted three nesting attempts and one nest.

- Beach cleaning activities: 588 hours. About 100 Kg of waste were gathered and sorted by category. 70% of that was commonly used plastic items (cups, dishes, straws and similar objects), the remaining 30% was made up of urban waste and cigarette stubs.

- Gathering scientific data on behalf of the SZN: 1,176 hours were spent checking sand temperatures, monitoring anthropic impact on the beaches that were patrolled, as well as gathering data on the characteristics of the beaches.

- Outreach activities: about 20 events were organized. Among them there were conferences accompanied by a photo exhibition, interactions with children at beach resorts, tourist resorts and children’s summer camps, and distribution of leaflets at beach resorts. The leaflets contained explanations on how to recognize turtle tracks.

- Rescuing turtles: in two cases our volunteers were involved in the rescuing and the transferring of a Caretta caretta turtle in emergency situations. The first instance happened in the Salerno Gulf and the second in the Lazio region.

Activities concerning the nests: our volunteers, upon request by the people in charge at the SZN, took part in the monitoring, hatching, and final opening activities regarding the following nests:

- Nest in Eboli: spotted on June 12th (before the campaign officially started) - hatched on August, 3rd - 68 baby turtles born, five undeveloped embryos.

- Nest in Acciaroli: unreported nest - 25 baby turtles born, five undeveloped embryos – we have no knowledge of the previous phases of this nest.

- Nest in Ardea (Rome): this nest did not hatch. It was opened by the biologists of the SZN on September 2nd. About 100 eggs, all embryos were undeveloped.

- Nest in Palinuro: unreported nest - hatched on September, 5th - 105 baby turtles born, seven undeveloped embryos.

- Nest in Palinuro: spotted on July 6th by the Palinuro Crew - hatched on September 19th - 69 baby turtles born, four undeveloped embryos.

Patrolling at sea by the M.V. Sam Simon,  in a joint effort with the Italian Coast Guard of the Maritime Department of Catania: 168 hours of uninterrupted sailing in the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea - 49 illegal FADs were seized, as well as 73.5 km of nylon ropes, countless plastic jerrycans and plastic bottles.

Jairo Med volunteers watch over the protected sea turtle nests at night. Photo Sea Shepherd.

The illegal FADs (Fishing Aggregating Devices), which are locally called “cannizzi”* damage both life in the Mediterranean and local, legal fishing. The local management plan for the Aeolian Islands archipelago regulates their use: “In the zone to be managed, specific areas shall be individuated, in which the “cannizzi” shall be anchored, and their number shall be previously determined (maximum number: 20), along with the positioning and the use (measure 1.4 of the 2007-2013 EFF). They shall be assigned to fishers by means of random draw and they shall bear initials that shall make them recognizable. Moreover, in order to fight the fact that, in the last few years, common dolphinfish are caught earlier and earlier, it is ordered that the “cannizzi” shall be placed starting from September, 15th, and that the beginning of the fishing of common dolphinfish shall start on October, 30th”**. The FADs we retrieved did not have any identification, and their complete lack of traceability makes them a part of Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported fishing (IUU).

Andrea Morello, the Campaign Leader, states: “Sea Shepherd fights against IUU fishing, against the use of plastic and against illegal fishing nets, employing ten ships on almost all the seas of our planet. Yet the most important weapon that makes a difference is passion; the passion of individuals, which leads to not turning a blind eye to illegal actions and cruelty, and instead to fighting them by means of direct action.  The first year of the Jairo Med Campaign has yielded terrific results, bringing to justice illegal fishing methods which would have killed sea turtles and countless wildlife in the Mediterranean. Neptune’s Navy shall always keep fighting in the interest of our Clients, in a consistent and relentless way, measuring our success through the number of lives we save. Our foundation and the element that leads us are the words of our Captain, Paul Watson: we exist thanks to biodiversity.

The rich fabric of all our cultures and of all the goals we reached concerning sciences and art is interwoven with biodiversity. If bees disappear, our crops disappear, too. If forests are diminished, we are diminished. If phytoplankton dies, we die, too. If herbaceous plants die, we die, too!

We exist thanks to the geoengineering contribution given by millions of different species, that enable the functioning of the ecosystem we need to survive. From bacteria to whales, from seaweeds to redwoods. If we damage the foundation of this survival system, all we created shall disappear. And we shall disappear.”

Volunteers count any dead sea turtle eggs that didn't hatch. Photo Sea Shepherd.

Translation by Sea Shepherd Italia

* Translator's note: “cannizzi” (singular: cannizzo) are fixed buoys to which palm branches or similar materials, generally misnamed “canne” (reeds in English) are attached, hence the name. The branches form a sort of shelter on the surface, under which high-sea fish gather.

** Translator's note: this passage from the Management Plan was translated by the translator, as an official English translation of the Plan in question could not be located despite in-depth research.

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