Sea turtles in Italy

SOS Turtles: 200 Thousand at risk every year.

caretta carettaThe European project Tartalife aims to reduce the incidental capture of the loggerhead sea turtle in the Mediterranean, a species that is almost extinct in some areas.

Two hundred thousand sea turtles are accidentally caught by fishermen every year: 40,000 of these turtles do not survive. To curb this carnage Europe funded the Tartalife project, supported by fishermen themselves, and coordinate by the Institute of Marine Sciences of the CNR in Ancona in Italy. The purpose of the project Life+ is to save the loggerhead sea turtle (caretta caretta), a highly endangered species, by modifying the fishing techniques, such as longlines, and net trawls, and gillnets that are more dangerous for the turtles.

Several methods will be used to achieve this goal. The first one is TED (Turtle Excluder Device): a grid sewn inside the net that can block the turtles, but not the fishes. When bumping against TED the turtles can find their way back to freedom through an opening in the net closed by an only partially sewn piece of cloth. Another option to decrease damages, is to use circle hooks that reduce by about 70% the accidental capture of turtles and reduce the mortality of the remaining 30% (the hook gets caught only superficially and can then be easily removed by fishermen).
Finally Tartalife will try the STAR (Sea Turtle Acoustic Repellent). This is a device that is placed on gillnets, and in contact with water, it starts to emit acoustic signals that the turtles can hear. It is thought that this way the turtles will be able to locate the net and avoid it.
Courses for fishermen and the strengthening of turtle rescue centers complete the project. This should help to stop the decline of a species that is a symbol of our seas. Every year 130 thousand loggerhead turtles are the victims of professional fishermen who accidentally catch them. If we add to this all the small fishing boats, the number goes up to 200 thousand.