Presenting one of the longest coastlines, which supports the livelihood of one of the largest fishing fleets within the Mediterranean, Turkey is one of the targeted countries of the MedBycatch project for a reason. With the National Observer team and the data collection programme, in collaboration with local fishers, well established from the first phase and continuing during the second phase, the project’s focus has now turned to the implementation of bycatch mitigation trials.
Through these trials we aim to identify and demonstrate the effectiveness and viability of measures to reduce bycatch of vulnerable species and increase survival following a bycatch event. This is an important step towards the long-term objective of reducing the impact of bycatch on vulnerable species across the Mediterranean region.
Stepping on the results of the observer programme implemented during Phase 1, a number of measures have been selected, focusing on mitigating bycatch of elasmobranchs (sharks & rays) and sea turtles— two taxa most frequently recorded as bycaught in Phase 1— and in marine areas and ports where the highest levels of bycatch were recorded.
An important step to achieving this goal was the training of the observer team on bycatch mitigation tools and techniques, which recently took place in the port of Mersin in Turkey, 7-12 September 2021. Our National Focal Point coordinated the training activities, while all of our local partners (DEKAMER, WWF Turkey, TUDAV, Doga Denergi) and our observers, worked on board with fishers and were trained for six days on the TEDs that mitigate incidental catch of sea turtles and sharks (the most bycaught species) per fishing gear (trawlers). To understand the installation and mechanics of these tools is of utmost importance for the success of the mitigation trials.
The mitigation programme lies at the heart of the second phase of MedBycatch project. Validating effective mitigation methods will pave the way for reducing bycatch in the Mediterranean.