Threat to the sea: there are many invasive species on our coasts

Due to the strong pressure on fisheries resources, the widespread destruction of the marine environment through fishing practices that do not comply with national regulations, the generalization of illegal fishing supported by industrial fishing lobbies …, our sea and our marine resources are under threat today like never before.

The simple idea of ​​seeing our marine resources become scarce could frighten thousands of Tunisian families living by the sea. Faced with this situation, the protection of the marine environment is an absolute priority and is, inter alia, the prohibition of all fishing methods. … dangerous for the ichthyological fauna and the ecosystem in general, delimitation of fishing zones, limiting efforts and catch sizes, fixing the mesh size of the nets … at sea, we have not noticed a reduction in this illegal activity, and these appeals are not taken seriously by our decision-makers … The straw that creates dirt is poor management and irrational exploitation of fishery resources. This is a somewhat disturbing observation made by Abdelmajid Dabbar, president of the Tunisian Ecological Association.

Three quarters of the catches are non-target species

In a statement submitted to Press, Mr. Dubbar did not fail to recall that after the revolution, a system of fishing that had been banned since January 1994 was born. This is trawling with tackle, which is locally called a “kiss”, which destroys the seabed at shallow depths. This is a type of very dangerous poaching, which scrapes the seabed with heavy chains that tear off the flora of shallow water, especially Posidonia meadows, as well as small nets of all fish and crustaceans, even small and without commercial value, are admired …

“Despite the fact that this technique has been banned in our country for years, bandits and owners of ships for kissing continue this practice, without respecting the law or regulations, and this, in the eyes of all… In August 2020, at least 479 boats use a kiss. Today, the balance is alarming and catastrophic even in so-called protected areas, as only 18 to 25% of fish caught with a kiss have commercial value and can be sold on the market, and the rest, more than 75%, are 1 cm fish and even to a lesser extent, they are undesirable and accidentally caught species, and are usually thrown back, often dead, into the sea or on the coast. To all this we will add that these secret fishermen do not respect the biological rest 1is From July to September 30 every year, when any trawling, even in deep waters over 50 m, is prohibited during this period, “he explains.

Consequence, what’s next?

Mr Dubbar added that in the face of this situation, the NGO Tunisie Ecologie had been involved in research work off the coast of Tunisia in general and in the Gulf of Gabes in particular. As a result, 28 fishing ports were visited, from the Libyan border in the south to La Shebba in the north, passing through the islands of Djerba and Kerkenba.

“For these prohibited actions, the authorities were seized and information campaigns were launched in fishing ports, as well as newspaper articles and interventions on national and local radio, which were widely broadcast … And with the support of port and fishing authorities. in Sfax and in the center of the capital, and thanks to the cooperation of Japan and the Jica Foundation on March 19, 2014, artificial reefs were flooded on barges between the Kneis Islands, which have the status of a reserve to prevent trawling Kiss boats in these most sensitive habitats. At the beginning, traditional fishermen performed, but when they noticed that the fish stock had increased, they did not hide their joy and satisfaction, because the catch became interesting. But, unfortunately, underground fishermen managed to neutralize these reefs (weighing 600 kg) when they towed them and grouped them together so as not to damage their nets … The idea now is to find funds to place new reefs weighing more than 1,000 kg. and who will be armed with formidable iron bars to the nets of these recidivists and dangerous poachers …

Moreover, on April 18, 2022, sailors from the traditional coastal fishing in Shira closed the fishing port in protest against the phenomenon of blind, destructive and prohibited fishing by kissing. But this is still not enough. To this end, the national mobilization of artisanal fishermen with the support of civil society must seriously demonstrate against this dangerous practice, which is destroying habitats and fishery resources, ”he explained.

Invasive species and blue crab

In the oil port of Schira, almost opposite the Kneis Islands, and after a study conducted in 2015 by Sfax Faculty of Science and confirmed by Inat (National Institute of Agriculture of Tunisia), which recalls the existence of invasive aquatic species, confirmed the existence of 154 new invasive species competing with local species. In addition, the Regional Center for Specially Protected Areas (RACs / PAs) in its 2017 report notes that 168 invasive species have already been identified.

“Faced with this situation and in cooperation with scientists, information campaigns were conducted on the seriousness of the phenomenon of this invasion off the coast of Tunisia. And according to our research, this intrusion is related to ballast water emitted by large tankers arriving at the Shira oil terminal. Before loading crude oil, they empty large tanks filled with water taken from the ports of last resort, bringing in bacteria, germs and larvae of fish brought from the seas of Asia, Africa and America. And it is worth mentioning that the blue crab was first mentioned and reported on the shores of the Shira in March 2004 and confirmed in 2006.

Faced with this situation, Tunisie Ecologie seized the National Environmental Protection Agency (ANPE) in the presence of a representative of the General Directorate of Fisheries and the Main Directorate of Forests, where he presented the seriousness of the problem and the measures discussed. But now “the phenomenon of the invasion of the blue crab is out of control, and the spread, unfortunately, reaches north from Chebba to the shores of the Sahel, and in the south to the lagoon Biben,” clarifies-t- it again.

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