Drones against illegal fishing

Results of the collaboration with Sea Shepherd

Report about the fight against illegal fishing in the Mediterranean

fits in:

The Bees & Trees Foundation has been supporting the Sea Shepherd team since June 2021. A modern swarm of drones has been used in the fight against illegal, unregulated and undocumented (IUU) fishing in the Mediterranean.

This is because illegal fishing has been threatening the sustainability of marine ecosystems for decades. It is not only the fish that die, but often sustainable, traditional fishing at the same time:* Overfishing impairs the reproductive capacity of all fish stocks and disrupts the ecological balance. Habitats are destroyed in the long term, for example through the use of bottom trawls, which damage the seabed and coral reefs. Hundreds of kilometres of sunken nylon lines can also be found around the Aeolian Islands in the Mediterranean. They slowly turn into microplastics, which then find their way into our food chain. So it should be clear why the effort is worthwhile.

What our support has achieved

Sea Sheperd was able to use the drones to its advantage, particularly in terms of reaction speed and evidence. They take off faster than a boat can be launched. This allows Sea Shepard to react quickly to capture the images that are so important for legal prosecution. In the Antarctic, for example. Here, the drones collected facts to show the extent to which krill fishing is threatening the Antarctic. When a krill supertrawler heads straight for a school of feeding whales, the boat-to-water launch takes too long to film. However, the drones took off at short notice and captured exactly the footage that was urgently needed.

They have also been used successfully in the Mediterranean. In summer 23, illegal longline fishing there decreased significantly: 70 per cent less than in the previous year. Thanks to the joint efforts of Sea Shepherd and the Italian Guardia di Finanza. Throughout the summer, the SEA EAGLE patrolled the Tyrrhenian Sea as part of OPERATION SISO 6 with two fully crewed vessels (the SEA EAGLE and the CONRAD), covering almost 3,000 nautical miles, supported by a shore team of around 150 volunteers from 20 countries.

Die Sea Eagle Crew vor gesammelten Netzen

The joint operations resulted in the removal of 30 kilometres of main lines and 2,000 hooks that posed a threat to marine life. With the authorisation of the Comando Navale di Vibo Valentia of the Guardia di Finanza, the Sea Shepherd crew was able to recover and dismantle all unmarked and abandoned fishing gear. In June, the SEA EAGLE also assisted the Italian Coast Guard boat GREGORETTI in the seizure of two illegal nets in the Gulf of Sapri.

Rewarding commitment

Sea Shepherd’s tireless efforts over the years have contributed to the recovery of marine life populations in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Videos produced with the drones have also helped to raise public awareness. Films showing sperm whales, dolphins, swordfish and, above all, the endangered bluefin tuna have literally flooded social media.

The task of maintaining the health and stability of the marine ecosystem remains as great as ever, despite all the joy at the results. There is still a long way to go to establish sustainable fisheries management globally and successfully combat the negative effects of illegal fishing practices.

Schildkröte in einem Fangnetz

Unfortunately, the first net contained the entangled remains of several sea creatures.

More articles ...