Fishing Boats at Twilight - Oceana USA
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July 5, 2006

Fishing Boats at Twilight

June 17-19, 2006

Yesterday we set out on a southern course for Agrópoli in order to observe the fishing activity below a depth of 1,000 m and to make use of the Olex software, which had been fitted to the boat this year, with the aim in mind of mapping a submarine landscape in which the isobaths (lines that join points of equal depth) drop from 1,200 m to 70 m.

During the course of the night, Carlos planned the transects that the Ranger would have to make in order to enable it to obtain maximum return from the information provided by the probe. The rest of the crew relieved each other from watch duty, constantly keeping an eye on the horizon on the lookout for any indication of fishing activity.

When I came on board, I had an impression of places that I know; places where, at twilight, one can still see the fishing boats set out to ply their to trade, where small lights can be seen on the horizon, while in the early hours of the following morning the markets are filled with the catch from the night before.

I have been on the Ranger for nearly a week observing the fishing boats both in the port and out on the high sea, and I am still amazed at the lack of “life”; we can spend hours sailing without seeing anything at all. The catches that we have seen unloaded, both in Agrópoli, as well as in Ischia, were small both in quantity and in size. The fleet that we see out fishing is at its minimum, and the nets used are in no way select, as if they were trying to finish off the what is left in the fishing grounds. We have sighted very few cetaceans since we set out on the expedition, and in the majority of cases, these have belonged to the dolphin family.

Indi, our cook, says that nothing is also a datum of information. I hope that he is right, and that documenting the state in which the Mediterranean finds itself makes those people reflect who can and should take decisions as regards its protection and preservation.

Today we return to Agrópoli to pick up Xavier, Juan and Quique. From what they have told us by phone, they have seen a lot of driftnet vessel activity along the Calabrian coast and on the northern Sicilian coast.