Sea Shepherd Back in Sicilian Waters

Sea Shepherd Global has launched Operation Siracusa 2015 to fight illegal fishing in the Plemmirio Marine Reserve, off the Eastern coast of Siracusa in Sicily, the marine wildlife conservation group said in a release.

During Operation Siracusa 2015, Sea Shepherd volunteers will patrol the territory along the coast of the Marine Reserve, identifying, documenting and reporting any poaching activity in the region. On days when poor weather does not allow coastal patrols, volunteers will engage in beach clean-ups to remove plastic and other garbage from the area.

Sea Shepherd will continue its cooperation with the authorities of the AMP Plemmirio (Plemmirio Marine Reserve), established during the 2014 campaign, which lead a total a total of 1,250 urchins being rescued, illegal fishing nets and fishing gear being confiscated, and poachers being fined for their crimes.

”After the enormous success of last year’s operation, Sea Shepherd Italy volunteers have started with the same dedication and have already helped to realize the first arrests of the season,” said CEO of Sea Shepherd Global, Alex Cornelissen.

”There is no doubt that under the watchful eyes of Sea Shepherd Italia, no poacher can get away with plundering this important Marine Protected Area. Everybody in the Sea Shepherd movement once again awaits the further news from Sicily. No doubt, more arrests will follow and poaching will once again come to a full standstill.”

The Plemmirio Marine Reserve was established in 2004 and extends along a 14-km coast trait, on the Eastern coast of the Penisola della Maddalena (Siracusa).

The reserve covers 2,429 hectares and is classified as an Area Specialmente Protetta di Interesse Mediterraneo (ASPIM); a name given to sites that are important for the conservation of biodiversity in the Mediterranean. The region is also listed as an Area Marina di Reperimento, which means its conservation is deemed to be a priority.

The Reserve is a haven for marine life including large pelagic fish such as tuna, greater amberjacks and sharks, as well as transient marine mammals, including sperm whales. Species that are most directly impacted by poaching in the region are the sea urchin and the dusky grouper, the latter being listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Image: Tommaso De Lorenzi