Their slogan is “give back to the sea”, a noble act and one much needed for the increasingly contaminated Mediterranean Sea. The promoters of Projecte Sèpia are convinced they are sowing the seeds for a future that can benefit both marine biodiversity and local fishermen. And indeed, the two young leaders of the project are a marine biologist, Boris Weitzmann, and a traditional fisherman, Isaac Moya. They have continued a task that began several years ago as a collaboration between the Torroella, Medes and Baix Ter Natural Park and local fisherman in L’Estartit. They have now expanded this initiative to include L’Escala. In an initial phase they set out squid nurseries and it was a complete success. This year, thanks in part to work they have undertaken raising awareness about the sea among the local population, they have been able to begin a second phase with incubators.
In many fishing nets squid or cuttlefish eggs can be found which until now meant extra work for fishermen, who also made not profit from them– says Isaac. Now, fishermen collect eggs which have got caught in their nets, put them in a bucket and take them to the port. Boris and Isaac then put them in a spawning pond and calculate when the eggs will be mature enough. They then put them in incubators that they take out to sea allowing the eggs to finish their cycle and hatch.
According to Boris -the results are spectacular. Fishermen’s average catch last year was around 1,000 eggs a day for each boat that went out to fish. We were really surprised. And the level of effectiveness of the incubators was 93%, thereby allowing a large number of juvenile cephalopods to be returned to the waters of L’Estartit and L’Escala.
The project took center stage at a world congress organized by Low Impact Fishers of Europe, an umbrella platform for small fishing associations.
This year the squid nurseries in Estartit and L’Escala will be buoyed and conferences will be organized to explain the project.