Thanks to a cooperative management project, biodiversity has recovered at Torre Guaceto, and fisherman are earning more revenue than ever
Spotted: Natural reserve Torre Guaceto gives the highest catches per unit in the Mediterranean thanks to a cooperative management project, where only five boats and seven fishermen are allowed to fish.
The marine reserve spans across 5,400 acres of sea and five miles of coastline. While a day of fishing in the outer sea might give fishers some revenue, with fish of any kind and size extracted during the process (from anchovies to dolphins), Torre Guaceto’s fishers enter the reserve only once a week and make revenues of up to €8,500 a day.
Conservationists began the task of working with local stakeholders over 25 years ago, in a region plagued by organised crime and aggressive exploitation of natural resources. The area was so worn out that in 2001, the Consorzio, formed by the World Wildlife Fund and the nearby cities of Brindisi and Carovigno, decided to close the waters of the reserve for five years. The biodiversity has since recovered, and because of the renewed and limited fishing pressure, catches stabilised at almost twice the weight of those from outside waters.
Without the fishing pressure, female white seabream inside the reserve can reach twice the size of females outside and produce 100 times more eggs. An increase of the fish population within a reserve pushes younglings out of the area to find their own territory. This spillover is called “reserve effect” and benefits the areas immediately surrounding it.
Guidetti says that Torre Guaceto is the only reserve in the world with prolonged monitoring of the fish population, demonstrating the positive impact of a well co-managed marine environment.
Written By: Katrina Lane