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Photos: Oceana Uncovers Illegal Driftnet Fishing in Morocco

Juvenile swordfish (Xiphias gladius) in the Port of Tangiers, Morocco.

Juvenile swordfish (Xiphias gladius) in the Port of Tangiers, Morocco. (Photo: Oceana in Europe / Flickr)

Earlier this week, Oceana in Europe found that Morocco is once again using illegal driftnets in the swordfish fishery, despite an official phase-out in 2010. Photographs gathered by Oceana over the past few days show small and large vessels coordinating to capture swordfish in the Strait of Gibraltar, which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean.


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Turkey to Eliminate Driftnets in 2011

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez

About a month after Morocco announced it would ban illegal driftnets in the Mediterranean, Turkey has followed suit, announcing it will stop using the destructive fishing gear next year.

The decision follows intense campaigning by our European colleagues, who estimate that more than 500 vessels have been operating illegally in the Mediterranean, some with nets up to 12 miles long. It’s estimated that thousands of creatures, including whales, dolphins, sharks and sea turtles, are trapped by the indiscriminate fishing gear each year.


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Morocco Bans Driftnets

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez

Great news in the battle against illegal fishing: Morocco has passed an amendment banning the use, possession, manufacture or sale of driftnets.

Known as “curtains of death,” driftnets are a type of illegal fishing gear that can be nearly 100 feet high and 12 miles long. Because they are so passive and indiscriminate, driftnets snag whatever’s in their path, including many marine mammals and other endangered species.

The UN passed an international moratorium on driftnets 15 years ago, and the EU instituted a ban seven years ago, but many French, Italian and Moroccan vessels have continued using them.


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