Small-scale driftnets in the Mediterranean: Technical features, legal constraints and management options for the reduction of protected species bycatch.

Driftnet fisheries Mediterranean Management measures Threatened species Bycatch


The illegal use of driftnets targeting large pelagic species, such as swordfish and bluefin tuna, continues to be reported in some Mediterranean countries and to cause concern due to the high risk of bycatch of protected species (chiefly marine mammals and sea turtles). In May 2014, the European Commission announced its intention to adopt a universal moratorium on driftnet fishing in EU waters. However, driftnets have been used for decades throughout the Mediterranean by countless, inshore small-scale artisanal fleets to catch small pelagic species like anchovy, sardine, and mackerel. This study was devised to collect detailed information on the technical characteristics of the small-scale driftnets used in the Mediterranean, describe the features of each net type, and identify the technical and management changes that may enable their preservation. Data analysis indicated that i) use of thin yarns and a mesh opening of less than 80 mm (or 70 mm according to a stricter approach) would allow the survival of most traditional métiers while preserving sensitive and protected species; ii) the requirement to carry on board a single gear type should be included in the regulatory framework; and iii) driftnet use within 3 miles of the coast would greatly reduce the risk of interactions with sensitive species.