13th of October 2018, Salina Island (Aeolian Archipelago)
On Saturday 13th October, the island of Salina hosted an international event: “Responsible, small-scale fishing: Win-win, low-impact, sustainable models that boost fish stocks and improve livelihoods”, organised by Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) and the Aeolian Islands Preservation Fund (AIPF). Fishermen from five small-scale European fisheries met to discuss their experiences for the first time. Aeolian fishermen hosted their counterparts from the Italian marine protected areas (MPAs) of Egadi Islands, Punta Campanella, Torre Guaceto, and Lyme Bay, UK.
The participating fishermen presented various initiatives from their local regions, showing how responsible, small-scale fisheries are beneficial to the local fishing economy and the marine environment.
In 2017, BLUE and AIPF launched an ambitious project with the small-scale fishermen of Salina and Stromboli. Conservationists and local fishermen joined forces to develop a responsible fishing ‘Code of Conduct’, to reduce their impact on marine ecosystems and promote the sustainability of local fish stocks. In return, BLUE and AIPF have invested in insulated fish boxes and ice machines to improve the quality of catch. They have also created a label that identifies responsible Aeolian fishermen and their sustainable, premium quality seafood. The project is based on BLUE’s ground-breaking work in Lyme Bay, where small-scale fishermen earn more money by fishing sustainably within a managed area.
The Responsible Fishing Event increased awareness of the positive relationship that can exist between marine conservation and sustainable fishing. By bringing together individuals from different backgrounds, the fishermen from each MPA benefitted form the opportunity to compare experiences and develop a deeper understanding of the synergy that can be achieved when combining responsible, small-scale fisheries and marine conservation.
Rory Moore, BLUE’s Senior Project Manager, explained: “BLUE’s mission in the Aeolian Islands is to restore fish stocks. I know from experience in Lyme Bay that a partnership with small-scale fishermen can create a win-win for marine conservation and sustainable fisheries. Today, like minded fishermen from Italy and the UK have come together and spoken about the benefits of effective management of marine resources. We look forward to replicating this success, not just in the Aeolians but throughout the Mediterranean Sea.”
Ilaria Rinaudo, from the scientific technical staff of the MPA in the Egadi Islands, said: “There is no environmental protection if there is no healthy fishing activity and vice versa. The rules don’t inhibit the activity of the fishermen and can be modified according to each area.”
Gavin Ziemann, a small-scale fisherman from Lyme Bay addressed his Italian counterparts, explaining how BLUE had brought together conservationists and fishermen for the first time, facilitating change. Gavin talked about the results of the Lyme Bay programme: more fish, more shellfish and a higher value catch due to the availability of fresh ice and cold storage.
Claudio Longo, President of the fishing cooperative EMMA in Torre Guaceto and the fishermen of the area, said that, following the establishment of the Protected Marine Area, the size of the fish caught has increased considerably and the average age has risen. In some areas, fishermen only need to fish once a week as minimal effort is required to achieve maximum economic return.
The fisherman from Stromboli Gaetano Cusolito said he was grateful for having had the opportunity to participate in the project on responsible fishing because this is what our sea needs.
Alfonso Milano, Director of the Department of Mediterranean Fisheries in the region, talked about the future prospects of collaboration between the Sicily Region and Aeolian fishing.
The Regional Councillor for Tourism, Sandro Pappalardo, wanted to send a message to support the work of the foundations: “Your mission is interesting but particularly difficult, and your commitment honours the achievements so far and those still to be achieved. Fighting overfishing and the destruction of biodiversity through the creation of marine reserves and sustainable fishing models cannot go unnoticed. The ideas and actions implemented by your institutions will be supported by our Region and by the Tourism Department in particular.”
Luca del Bono, Chairman of the Aeolian Islands Preservation Fund, extends a special thanks to all the fishermen and organisations that carry out activities to help protect the ecosystem of the Aeolian Islands: “Working together we can achieve great results and I hope to always be able to continue with the same spirit. Unity is strength.”
The event was supported by the Municipality of Santa Marina Salina, Malfa and Leni, in collaboration with the Coast Guard, and kindly sponsored by the local wineries of Salina Capofaro Malvasia & Resort, Fenech, Caravaglio and D’Amico Salvatore Agrobiological Company. We thank the Municipality of Lipari for its collaboration in the sustainable fishing project in Stromboli.
A special thanks to all the fishermen of the Aeolian Islands who attended the event.