The Black Fish: Mediterranean Driftnet Campaign

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The Black Fish has been investigating illegal driftnet use in the Mediterranean Sea for the last three years. Driftnets are large fishing nets which hang in the ocean like a curtain, and catch everything in their paths. They are often referred to as ‘curtains of death’, due to their destructive nature. Responsible for catching high numbers of whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles, the United Nations banned their large-scale use of driftnets on the high seas in 1982. Regardless of this global moratorium, illegal driftnet fishing continues to this day, due to a lack of effective enforcement.

In 2013, when carrying out inspections in fishing ports and markets, to collect evidence of illegal driftnet use, The Black Fish learned that fishing companies had started using ports in countries outside of the EU as ‘safe harbors’, away from where enforcement officials had adequate resources to monitor activities.

Through this project, The Black Fish was able to expand its campaign and carried out inspections in 35 additional ports. Visiting all the ports along both the Tunisian and Albanian coasts, it was the first census of its kind in these two countries. Since the investigation the EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki has proposed to ban all types of driftnets in EU waters, partly thanks to evidence provided to the European Commission by a number of NGOs, including The Black Fish.

The Black Fish is an international organization that works to end illegal overfishing. Our approach brings together people and the benefits of modern technology to protect the oceans through enforcement of environmental regulations. The Black Fish currently runs 28 projects in 12 countries around Europe, with an international team of 30 staff, countless volunteers and supporters around the world.

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