The first localization warning was made by an instructor of a diving center in Estartit (Baix Empordà). The net taken from the sea bed is 200 meters long and weighs a lot; it was put on a sandy bottom with pebbles and some rocks. With the data given by the instructor and according to the level of epibiosis (encrusted organisms) the net shows, it is thought to have remained underwater for two years.
Before removing it, experts studied it to calculate the impact it could have on the sea beds, apart from detecting and releasing caught species. Then, they took it from the bottom avoiding erosion and protecting marine species during the extraction process. Due its big measurements and weight of this net, the members of GRAE had to take it out in two steps with the help of an air-balloon. According to the experts, although the erosion effects of the net on the rocks are significant, the trace that remained on the sea bed -which was most of it- didnʼt provoke any important impact.
Avoiding ghost fishing
These findings show that there is still illegal bottom-trawling in the marine reserve. The results of the marine biodiversity monitoring program of the park show a decline of some commercial species, such as the gilthead sea bream, and this was thought to be due bottom-trawling. Having found this net proves the hypothesis right.
This action is part of the project “Evitem la pesca fantasma”, which started in 2015 at the Natural Park of Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter, to remove nets and fishing gears from the sea beds, both crafted and sporty, to prevent species and benthonic ecosystems from receiving its impact.
The project is an initiative by the researchers of the Marine Biodiversity Conservation Group MedRecover of the University of Barcelona, coordinated by Professor Bernat Hereu from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences and the IRBio, with the collaboration of the Natural Park of Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Term and the fisher confraternity of Estartit.
Images: Bernat Hereu (UB-IRBio)