Sustainable fishing means leaving enough fish in the seas, respecting habitats and making sure that people who depend on the fishing economy can maintain their livelihoods.
Italy, together with other 192 UN member countries, in 2015 signed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an action program divided into 17 Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs and 169 Targets aimed at promoting prosperity and development and, at the same time, protect the planet. 10 years after the deadline, despite the commitment of many countries in promoting a transition towards more sustainable models, in most cases the targets set for 2020 are far from being achieved.
One of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, the goal / objective 14: life underwater, sees Italy far behind (together with others such as the 5 Gender equality, and other goals); the reasons for this delay are attributable to the delays in submitting the reports required by the Directive and the lack of many of the cognitive data. Italy is still among the Member States with significant non-compliance, despite the fundamental environmental and socio-economic importance that the sea has for our country.
Over the last decade, the Italian composite index relating to Goal 14 shows a fluctuating trend: it improves until 2015, thanks to the significant growth of the indicator relating to marine protected areas, and then worsens significantly in the last three years, due to the ” increase in fishing activity and overexploitation of fish stocks (90.7% compared to a European average of 38.2%). On the one hand, the decrease in fishing effort contributes to this situation (calculated as the product between the tonnage of the boats and the fishing days, which decreases by approximately 36% compared to 2010), and on the other hand the increase in the catch per unit. of effort (which increased by more than 25% compared to 2010). There is therefore no overall recovery of the exploited resources.
In our small way we try to point out the criticalities we see when we dive, we have documented the ghost nets, the trawl nets lost by the trawlers that are getting closer and closer to the submerged cliffs, and to the coast, destroying entire reefs and entire Habitats; the countless and tragically eternal nylon lines left by sport fishermen; and more.
All this I believe is a problem of knowledge, culture and education on the part of all of us rather than a problem of regulations and failure to achieve goals. We lack the awareness of what happens when we perform certain gestures such as grabbing a trawl net on a thousand-year-old coral reef; leave plastic in the sea, leave hundreds of meters of nylon lines because our lures have grabbed, or leave a 5 cm hook in the mouth of a fish that can no longer be fed unless it is able to free itself.
The latter case is what we have seen in this dive. An adult specimen of Mediterranean grouper, Epinephelus marginatus, with a large hook stuck in the fish’s jaw. Fortunately from the images it seems that it is outside the jaw and not in the mouth of the fish, so most likely the Grouper will be able to feed and perhaps get rid of the hook. In the video we also see many meters of abandoned nylon lines and sport fishermen do not want it if we show these images; but obviously it is not enough to use barbless hooks or to release undersized fish into the sea to define a “sport” fishing. A great effort is needed on the part of all of us, and since we are not capable of it, marine protected areas and parks are welcome.