EU Project to Preserve Sharks and Rays in the Mediterranean – In October 2023, the LIFE European Sharks project was launched, an ambitious initiative aimed at preserving sharks and rays inhabiting the Mediterranean Sea.
Eleonora de Sabata, the project coordinator, emphasized the team’s unique approach:
“We aim to focus on the human element, changing the perception of sharks from dangerous to endangered.”
Thanks to co-financing from the European Union, the initiative aims to promote the conservation of protected species while encouraging responsible and sustainable interactions with sharks and rays.
The main activities of the project include training fishery officials and fishermen to reduce the mortality of protected species, promote compliance with EU regulations, and improve the quality of data collection. Fishermen will be involved in voluntary actions to reduce the mortality of incidental catches of sharks and rays, with an assessment of the socio-economic impact of such solutions.
The involvement of recreational fishermen is also an objective, promoting responsible catch and release of sharks and rays and implementing management techniques to increase their survival. Additionally, the project aims to reduce the risk of entanglement in local fishing gear, working closely with divers.
The project will leverage the knowledge of sea users to map crucial areas for the reproduction, feeding, and migration of sharks and rays, encouraging authorities, policymakers, and communities to adopt conservation measures.
A fundamental aspect of the project is to raise public awareness about the essential role sharks and rays play in the Mediterranean ecosystem. Engaging activities are planned in various aquariums, and collaborations with chefs aim to promote more sustainable consumption of local food.
Giovanni Raimondi, Scientific Coordinator of the Livorno Aquarium, commented:
“Sharks need to transition from a negative perception created by cinema to a more sustainable image, focused on the environment and reflecting the crucial ecological role they play.”
The project, coordinated by the Anton Dohrn Zoological Station, involves collaboration with partners from Croatia, France, and Italy.
This initiative is supported by the LIFE program, the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action.
For further details and updates, you can visit the official project website.
EU Project to Preserve Sharks and Rays in the Mediterranean