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Operation SiracusaSea Shepherd Global announces the launch of Operation Siracusa 2016; the third consecutive campaign to tackle poaching and illegal fishing in the Plemmirio Marine Reserve on the east coast of Syracuse, Sicily (Italy).

Led by Sea Shepherd Italia, Sea Shepherd volunteers will work in collaboration with the Italian Coast Guard and onshore authorities to ensure law enforcement, to document poaching activities, and focus to media attention on the devastating consequences of poaching on the the marine environment in the region.

The Plemmirio Marine Reserve was established in 2004 and is classified as a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Interest. The region is of great importance because of its delicate ecosystem and extraordinary wildlife, which includes tuna, amberjacks, dolphins, sharks, Sperm whales.

The Reserve also holds significance as an historical site. Beneath the Plemmirio waters are several neck amorphas and artifacts that are evidence of the region’s past as a crossroads in the passage of ships and vessels of Carthaginians, Romans and Greeks.

Poaching and illegal fishing activity inside the Protected Marine Reserve has led to a significant decline in native species, particularly Duksy groupers, which are classified as “Threatened” by the IUNC Red List.

Poaching occurs mainly during the night or at dawn, and is carried out by divers and by vessels using long lines and nets.

Sea Shepherd volunteers will engage in night monitoring of the Park's coasts and sea in order to film and document the poaching activities. Photo: Marianna BaldoSea Shepherd volunteers will engage in night monitoring of the Park's coasts and sea in order to film and document the poaching activities. Photo: Marianna BaldoSea Shepherd volunteers will engage in night monitoring of the Park's coasts and sea in order to film and document the poaching activities.

The Sea Shepherd ship, Sam Simon, will be on location in the region and will use its resources to lend support to the campaign. Sea Shepherd will also receive logistical assistance from a local diving-center, which will provide a house and a van for onshore volunteers.

Sea Shepherd is honored to once again receive the support of Enzo and Patrizia Maiorca on Operation Siracusa 2016. Members of Sea Shepherd’s Board of Advisors and world freediving champions, Enzo and his daughter Patrizia are are particularly concerned about the fate of this delicate and threatened ecosystem, which also holds a personal significance for them.

In 2008, artist Pietro Marchese created bronze work entitled "The Mermaid", commissioned by the city of Syracuse and dedicated to Rossana Maiorca, daughter of Enzo who sadly passed away in 2005. This bronze statue is situated on the sea bed in the Plemmirio Marine Reserve.

Enzo Maiorca speaks to media about the importance of preserving the delicate ecosystem of the Plemmirio Marine Reserve. Photo: Marianna BaldoEnzo Maiorca speaks to media about the importance of preserving the delicate ecosystem of the Plemmirio Marine Reserve. Photo: Marianna Baldo
Guardia di Finanza Comandante, Marco Re, with Enzo Maiora. Photo: Marianna BaldoGuardia di Finanza Comandante, Marco Re, with Enzo Maiora. Photo: Marianna Baldo

Dusky Grouper is one of the species under threat from poachers in the Plemmirio Marine Reserve. Photo: Antonio DrosiDusky Grouper is one of the species under threat from poachers in the Plemmirio Marine Reserve. Photo: Antonio Drosi

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