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Tartanet, a network for the conservation of sea turtles in Italy (TARTANET)
Date du début: 1 nov. 2004, Date de fin: 31 oct. 2008 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Background The loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), a priority species under the Habitats Directive, is severely threatened in the entire Mediterranean basin, as it is across the world. The main problems are related to the impact of by-catch fishing and the loss of nesting beaches due to human disturbance. Over the last 30-50 years, the number of nesting sites and of egg deposition has drastically reduced In Italy. In Linosa and Lampedusa in the Pelagian islands, south of Sicily, two certain nesting sites are present. However, sea turtle captures in the Italian seas are regularly registered. The average is about 9.8 captures/per day/per boat. Centro Turistico Studentesco e Giovanile (CTS), an Italian NGO, has been a partner in the management of LIFE Nature projects directed at conserving the sea turtle in two proposed Sites of Community Importance, Lampedusa and Linosa, since 1999. Rescue centres for the turtles and a veterinary laboratory were set up in Linosa, modified fishing gears at sea to reduce loggerhead turtle by-catch were tested, and an awareness-raising campaign, aimed in particular at local fishermen, was carried out. The second project aimed to identify, through satellite data, important (Tursiops truncatus) areas, monitor their population and analyse its interaction with fishing activities. Objectives Co-financed by the Italian Ministry of the Environment, the project would enlarge the geographical scope of actions taken to protect the sea turtle in the Italian seas. In particular, it aimed to set up a turtle conservation network, through five new rescue centres located in national parks and marine reserves, identified on the base of their importance for the presence of the sea turtle along the Italian coasts (Regional Park of Maremma, in the Tuscany Region; Marine Protected area of Punta Campanella, in the Campania Region; and National Park of Asinara, in the Sardinia Region). A turtle first aid service would also be established, with a nationwide toll-free number for reporting accidental catches and co-ordinating recovery efforts. Following the positive results achieved by a previous project, it would also promote, on a national level, the use of artificial baits to reduce the impact of by-catch on priority marine species, such as dolphins and turtles and the use of the Turtle Excluded Device (TED) system. The project planned also to draw up a national plan, based on the indications of the Mediterranean Action plan (UNEP/MAP) to reduce negative interactions with fishing activities (including regulatory and legislative issues). The creation of a website and a data bank to exchange experience and data were further actions foreseen by the project. Awareness-raising activities directed at local fishermen, which were started with the previous projects, would also be continued and reinforced. Fishermen would follow a course aimed at promoting correct fishing practices with a low impact on protected species. Results The project contributed to the conservation status of the loggerhead sea turtle on a national level by establishing a national network (in collaboration with the Italian ministry of the environment) to record all events related to the target species (findings, accidental capture by fishermen, nesting sites, treatment in the recovery centres, etc.). Five new recovery centres were established in five regions, and information campaigns were launched to inform the fishermen and the public at large about the conservation problems of the target species. New turtle-compatible fishing implements were promoted among fishermen, and one of them the circle-hook (an alternative to the "J" hook) was readily accepted because it does not reduce commercial catches and is reasonably priced. The TEDs to be used in trawling, on the other hand, were less accepted by the fisherman though the last tests provided positive results. On the policy side, the project established guidelines for the treatment of sea turtles in the recovery centres, which were endorsed by the ministry of the environment, and proposed guidelines for the fishermen on how to deal with accidentally caught sea turtles. These were accepted and praised by the fisheries department of the ministry of agriculture, though they are still to be officially endorsed. Another important accomplishment is the proposed enlargement of Natura 2000 site (Brancaleone, Calabria); this proposal was submitted by the Project to the Municipality, then transmitted to the Province, which approved it and forwarded it to the Region. The procedure for the SCI enlargement is still in progress but, thanks to the awareness raising campaign carried out by the project, the Calabria Region established a Regional Marine Park in the area aiming, among others, to the protection of the loggerhead turtle nesting sites. Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).


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