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How to avoid expensive mistakes when you buy a new or second-hand yacht. 

Available on Amazon here


Icom IC-M35We review the Icom IC-M35 handheld.  Read the full review here.

GMDSS A User's Handbook

By Denise Bréhaut

GMDSS A user's handbook








The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) provides a fast and efficient way of calling for assistance at sea, whatever the size of craft or its geographical position. Since it was first published, this book has helped explain the system for anyone using GMDSS and has been excellent pre-course reading for students.



SafaSail HatThe SafaSail Hard Hat looks just like a sailing cap, but will help protect you if you get a bang to the head.  See our review here

Help us stop Illegal Drift Nets

From María José Cornax
Marine Scientist
Oceana Trust

10th July 2009


Dear Editor

The walls of death in the Mediterranean

The United Nations moratorium on the use of large scale driftnets on the high seas came into effect worldwide in 1993. At that time, the use of this fishing gear was widely extended around the world due to its high yield and was promoted by various administrations. However, the effects of these walls of death, which reached up to 40 km in length and 30 km in height depending on the area, were soon to be noticed. In the beginning of the 90s, it was estimated that these nets caused the deaths of 300,000 cetaceans around the world annually, while devastating the populations of other less well-known, although equally endangered, species such as pelagic sharks or sea turtles.

Italy harboured the largest fleet in the world with some 700 vessels targeting swordfish in the Mediterranean Sea. With nets that reached 20 km in length, it soon became impossible to sail in the Tyrrhenian Sea at night. These nets also constituted a mortal trap for cetaceans in one of the most important areas for their conservation.  It was estimated that 8,000 cetaceans died annually in these nets in the Italian seas alone. Sperm whales were amongst the most affected species and the population declined to only a few hundred specimens in the waters of the Mare Nostrum.

Since the moratorium, a wide range of legal mechanisms have been implemented against this illegal gear, the EU, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean... Millions of Euros have also been used to convert these fleets to other, more sustainable fishing gear. In Italy's case, this sum was more than 100 million. Still today, however, more than 500 vessels continue to deploy these insurmountable walls in the Mediterranean, in countries like Morocco, Turkey, France, Tunisia, with Italy always at the forefront. Currently, because of the state of fishing resources in the Mediterranean, these nets do not only impact endangered species. Bluefin tuna and swordfish are caught illegally with this gear, and their populations are overexploited and on the verge of collapse. This means thousands of tons of commercial species are landed each day in Mediterranean ports without any type of control, worsening the state of our resources day by day.

Oceana has been documenting, reporting and following these vessels for years with one objective: to definitively eliminate driftnets from the Mediterranean Sea. But it is not only this fishing gear that is affecting the Mediterranean Sea; its sea beds are looking more and more like a desert and more restrictive and coherent management measures must be implemented immediately, but… What can we expect from these measures when there are still 500 vessels using driftnets 15 years after an international moratorium came into effect?

The oceans and life they harbour belong to all of us and, although it may be hard to believe, we must all defend them. You the readers, who sail in the Mediterranean, sometimes at night, will have to surmount these walls, using all of your skill so that the nets do not get caught in your propellers. That is the moment when you can actively contribute to the elimination of this fishing gear. Report the position of the boat and the length of the net to the competent authorities and, if possible, pass this information on to us by email at europe (Ed: remove the space before the @ symbol).

For Oceana, monitoring these fleets constitutes one of the most important tools to achieve the elimination of this illegal fishing gear. It is impossible for us to constantly monitor vessels on the high seas, but if you help us, together we can take small steps that will lead to great changes in the conservation of our oceans.


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