An Overview Of Our Solution
Every year over 640.000 tons of fishing gear enter the oceans. Ghost fishing is often related to illegal and unregulated fishing. In the Mediterranean this risk has grown to alarming proportions over the last 5 years. In October 2019, SAVE THE MED (STM) reported the situation to the European Commission (DGMARE) and the FAO in Rome. With the support of the USFWS, NOAA, SOCIB, OceanCare, Fundación Reina Sofía and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, STM launched the MED GHOST FAD project (MGF). MGF has aimed at developing a basin-wide network for concerted action, actively involving a great variety of stakeholders. The key element of the project has been developing and testing a safe and sustainable anchored FAD fishery that can prevent ghost fishing and enhance food security.
- Population Impacted 200.000
- Continent: Europe
The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most densely populated regions of the planet, hosting over 30% of the Worlds tourism and maritime traffic, as well as a complex fishing sector. Marine litter is currently one of the most rapidly growing threats to the water quality on which the Mediterranean biogeographic region depends. It is estimated that over 15% of marine litter is made up of ropes and ghost fishing gear, which is often related to illegal and unregulated fisheries. Ghost fishing adrift is a threat to food security, safe navigation and marine biodiversity, being currently ranked as the main cause of death of turtles in the open sea. STM’s surveys, reports from sea rescue services, fisheries and sea turtle recovery centres highlighting an exponential increase in ghost fishing since 2016. Over 80% of this is made up of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), of rudimentary construction.
Describe the technical solution you wanted the target audience to adopt
Purse seining around FADs is one of the most ancient forms of artisanal fishing worldwide. Properly managed, monitored, and operated with good quality materials, this can be one of the most safe, sustainable and selective types of fishing. In the Mediterranean, an anchored FAD fishery persists since over 2000 years, targeting the Mahi mahi (Coryphaena hippurus). In MGF we have combined the knowhow of communities that treasure thousands of years of this fishery with operational upgrades using modern technology. Through this process we hope to improve the fishery in these communities (Balearic Islands, Sicily, Tunisia and Malta) in order to replicate it through two pilot projects in coastal communities in North Africa. Our focus with this technical solution is on food security, safety, and environmental sustainability, reducing the risk of ghost fishing.
Describe your behavioral intervention.
MED GHOST FADs created a basin-wide network for concerted action and collaborative effort between multiple stakeholders, including professional fishers, sports fishers, navigators, relevant authorities, sea turtle recovery centres, research institutions, port authorities and marine security and safety patrol fleets. The project is developed at three levels; a) the retrieval of ghost gear and rescue of turtles, counting on the collaboration of fishers and navigators, b) the development of sustainable anchored FAD fisheries for small pelagic fish, combining knowhow in Malta and the Balearics with new technologies, and c) the capacity development of coastal communities in need, replicating the innovative FAD fishery at two pilot sites. The project is enhancing collaborative effort within and across sectors, focusing on improving sustainability of each, and in particular of fishing. By combining the focus on an environmental crisis with a humanitarian crisis the project builds on aspects as good seamanship, solidarity, empathy and respect for nature.
Behavioral Levers Utilized
As needed, please explain how you utilized the lever(s) in more detail.
The project is integrated in the relevant biodiversity conservation, sustainable fisheries and safety at sea policy frameworks (US MTCA, EU MSFD and CFP, UNEP MAP, FAO GFCM, ICCAT, and IMO). It focuses on; a) providing scientific data for the implementation of existing legislation, b) raising awareness and empowering and rewarding best practise and collaborative effort using multimedia and social network tools, and c) addressing the need for sustainable development through international cooperation schemes. In addition to these legal and information levers, the project has a beneficial impact on economy and food security.
Describe your implementation
The core of the project is a series of research actions focusing on; a) backtracking and telemetry of ghost FADs to identify source sites and sites of aggregation, b) telemetry and studies of sea turtles and other pelagic species to better understand the interactions with FADs and how FADs work, c) development and testing of new materials, components and operational changes in the anchored FAD fishery, and d) developing and testing innovative fishery electronic monitoring systems. A carefully designed stakeholder communication plan was set up to enhance collaborative spirit around the issue of ghost FADs. This included; a) informing policy with scientific data, b) raising awareness through multimedia and social networks, c) capacity development at different levels, and d) empowering and rewarding people and institutions participating in diverse actions of the project. Direct management actions included; a) ghost gear retrieval at sea and on shore, and b) sea turtle rescue at sea in collaboration with marine wildlife recovery centres.
Based on previous experience of FAD fisheries management plans, MGF develops a Monitoring Plan that is to provide the feed back to adjust the project actions in order to achieve its goals.
The project has counted on an overwhelming response from all stakeholders, mainly due to the alarming situation of ghost fishing and its highly visual negative impact both on safe navigation and the marine environment.
The COVID19 crisis had an initial negative impact on the project, forcing us to postpone an international workshop and several meetings. However, modern communication technologies have allowed us to overcome this.
Describe the leadership for your solution. Who is leading the implementation?
STM is a diverse team of experts in management, social and natural sciences, education, multimedia and communication, international cooperation and policy and marine protected areas and fisheries. The project is directed by an ASHOKA fellow with previous experience in similar collaborative networking projects. The project co director adds his experience and connections in the nautical sports and tourism sector, bringing into the project a potential that not many ENGOs have access to. STM’s team leads the project with its diversity of expertise, but in MGF we have made sure to empower all stakeholders as coleaders, valuing their perspective and input, in an attempt to share the ownership of MGF. The key element of the project is therefore its Communication Strategy and taking into consideration the diversity of expectations of each stakeholder.
Share some of the key partners or stakeholders engaged in your solution development and implementation.
The main challenge and opportunity of MED GHOST FAD is working with a great diversity of stakeholders. The long-term goal of the project for its continuity was to ensure that all stakeholders fulfil their expectations and share the ownership of the MED GHOST FADs. Policy makers, relevant authorities and intergovernmental organisations need to see MED GHOST FADs as achievements in their agendas. Recovery centres, research institutions and ENGOs need to witness the benefit of adding efforts to multiply their impact. Fishers, sports fishers, yachters, port authorities and maritime safety and security patrol boats need to feel part of the project with pride of good seamanship. Finally, for fishers and coastal communities the project is about better working conditions, economy, and food security. This is how we have envisioned the MED GHOST FAD network, and this is how it’s working.
Who adopted the desired behavior(s) and to what degree? Include an explanation of how you measured a change in behavior.
We measured this factor by a ratio of participation by sector. MED GHOST FADs’ success depends entirely on having enough stakeholders with collaborative spirit to generate a positive momentum for enhancing and facilitating the participation of stakeholders that are vital, but do not necessarily have an open mind to sharing data and effort. In the launch of the project the initial response has been overwhelming and enough to generate the necessary momentum. Surprisingly, sectors not directly related to conservation, such as fisheries (80%) and yachting (50%) have shown a very proactive and positive response. Recovery centres (80%) and the main research centres (80%) have likewise joined the project with a positive collaborative attitude.
How did you impact water pollution? Please be specific and include measurement methodology where relevant.
Over 400 ghost gear artefacts were retrieved by STM’s survey vessel in waters of the National Park of Cabrera since the start of the project. In addition, the MED GHOST FAD flotilla, including over 250 vessels (private yachts, fishers and patrol boats) retrieved nearly 500 ghost FADs. In the Balearic Islands, 85 sea turtles were rescued in 2020 just by the rescue centre of Fundación Palma Aquarium. If we add turtles rescued by other rescue centres of the MED GHOST FAD network in Spain (4), France (1) and Malta (1), over 500 loggerhead turtles were recued in 2019 and 2020.
How has your solution impacted equity challenges (including race, gender, ethnicity, social class/income, or others)?
MED GHOST FADs and Save the Med Foundation in general do not make any distinction in terms of gender, culture, age or any other condition. With the ambition of consolidating a basin-wide network, the MED GHOST FADs project makes a strong emphasis on the importance of working together towards a common goal of conservation, respecting all perspectives as an important contribution. The project addresses an environmental crisis that has part of its origin in a humanitarian crisis. By including actions at both levels, the project is building bridges between the north and south of the Mediterranean based on mutual understanding and respect.
What were some social and/or community co-benefits?
The project is bringing together a variety of stakeholders, enhancing positive and constructive behavioural changes in sectors of tourism, transport and fishing that in turn become an added value to these sectors that is in their interest. With regards to fishing and food security, the project benefits legal and sustainable fisheries and works on bringing alternatives and solutions to coastal communities.
What were some environmental co-benefits?
The project is a direct contribution to the regional and international strategies for marine turtle conservation and the ghost fishing crisis, retrieving ghost gear, rescuing turtles and working on the prevention of the loss and discard of more ghost gear. The expected prevention of ghost fishing and sea turtle rescue should constitute an important contribution to the regeneration of the Mediterranean.
What were some sustainable development co-benefits?
The project contributes with scientific data and data of ghost and illegal fishing reports to the implementation of fishing regulations and marine protected area management schemes. Furthermore, the project develops an innovative fishing technology for enhancing safe and sustainable food production in coastal communities in need.
Sustainability: Describe the economic sustainability of your solution.
The greater proportion of the MED GHOST FAD project is the contribution in kind from many of its stakeholders, and it is difficult to calculate (vessels, fuel, work, communications). The core of the project has a yearly budget of 250.000 Euros, of which approximately 30% is in kind contributions of relevant authorities, recovery centres and research institutions. Approximately 40% is from donors and volunteers that donate their time and funds to the project. The remaining 30% is through grants and contracts with governmental and intergovernmental organisations. The target budget for the project road map 2021 – 2025 is of 350.000 Euros.
Return on investment: How much did it cost to implement these activities? How do your results above compare to this investment?
The MED GHOST FAD project was launched in 2019 with an investment of 175.000 Euros with the cofounding of STM, OceanCare, USFWS, NOAA, Fundación Reina Sofía and LIBERA (SEO BirdLife).
How could we successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?
With the results of the project in the anchored FAD fisheries of the Balearic Islands three pilot replication projects are being launched in Malta and Morocco in 2021 and Algeria in 2022. With the learnings from these pilot projects we aim to contribute to global networks as the Global Ghost Gear Initiative or the United Nations Development Programme, for replicating the initiative in other sites. A first site for this phase has been identified in the Djibouti MPA Programme funded by the Global Environment Facility of UNDP.