Our passionate Italian group has mounted a campaign called Operation Siracusa to protect the dusky grouper in the waters of Syracuse, Sicily.
In an area known as the Protected Marine Area of the Parco del Plemmirio, off the Eastern coast of Syracuse, many large pelagic species can be observed. Tuna, amberjacks, sharks as well as small and large whales are drawn to the area.
The Italian campaign’s aim is to protect this wonderful ecosystem from widespread poaching activity. Two of the most targeted species are the sea urchin and the dusky grouper. The latter is listed as a highly endangered species, which has been included on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The protected area was established in 2004 and covers about 2,500 hectares. It is an area of special protection.
Poaching and other illegal fishing activity have resulted in the near extinction of the Dusky Grouper and countless other species in the area. The illegal activities mostly occur during the night or at sunrise, making detection more difficult. Inflatables with divers and spear guns, as well as fishing boats using nets are being used for these poaching operations.
Our volunteers will be patrolling the area to document and report illegal activity. Sea Shepherd is cooperating with local authorities that will act upon our information. Our volunteers will use the time during the patrols to clean up the area from plastic and garbage.
Enzo and Patricia Maiorca, Sea Shepherd Advisory Board Members, are the driving force behind this campaign. They will also be leading our team on the ground. Many Sea Shepherd staff members and ship crew will participate in this first Italian campaign, including Captain Peter Hammarstedt and myself.
Our goal is to eliminate poaching from the Marine Protected Area and to let the Dusky Grouper population in Syracuse recover.
- Captain Alex Cornelissen