The statues also provide nooks for fish to shelter in and surfaces for plant life to grow on. Image: Carlo Bonazza/Casa dei Pesci

EnvironmentHeroes Italy9. December 2022

Beautiful Undersea Art Gallery Stops Illegal Trawling

Off the coast of Talamone, Italy, white marble sculptures prevent illegal trawlers from destroying the seabed, and the undersea art gallery allows seagrass to recover and resume its impressive carbon-absorbing activity.

Bottom trawling – catching fish with a big net in the deep sea – is illegal within three nautical miles of Italy’s coastline, but it was not enough to prevent trailing chain-weighted nets from scraping the seabed, scooping everything in its path – fish, plants, and sea creatures. Casa dei Pesci – the home of the fish – offered an elegant yet simple solution: dropping white Carrara marble sculptures made by leading artists.

“The role of seagrasses as natural climate solutions has been recognized and understood only recently,” explains Peter Macreadie, associate professor of environmental science at Deakin University in Australia.

The first artwork was installed in 2015 – today, there are 39 – and the gallery is arranged to snag the nets of trawlers encroaching on this zone. Posidonia Oceania, an underwater seagrass, now has the chance to recover and absorb its share of carbon dioxide: while a typical forest can lock away about 5% of 5 tons of CO2 per hectare, per year, a Posidonia bed can lock in 20 to 25%. Anti-trawling obstacles have been installed from Porto Santo Stefano to the Ombrone River – a distance of 37 km – meaning that some 137 km2 of Posidonia meadow and fish habitat are now protected.


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