It might have taken years of work and sacrifices, but the creation of a marine reserve along the coastline in Puglia, Italy, turned out to be the success story that could potentially change how the ocean is preserved in the future, without depriving fishers of revenues.
The Torre Guaceto marine reserve, which spans 5,400 acres of sea and 8 km of coastline, proposes a sustainable fishing model: five boats are allowed in and seven fishers can throw their nets once a week. The rest of the week, the sea recovers. But fishermen are not outdone. They make up to $10,000 in revenues on that day alone.
The project started in 2001 with a five-year fishing ban to allow marine life and reefs to fully recover from past exploitation. The fishing trial post-ban turned out to be abundant, with bigger fish of higher value and convinced fishers of the positive outcome of marine reserve’s creation. Today, those fishers are Torre Guaceto’s greatest and fiercest allies. “We are the guardians,” says fisher Cosimo Di Biasi. Now, they are the ones requesting the expansion of the reserve’s territory, and championing sustainable fishing projects around the world. “We hope they will follow our example and create a marine reserve. It took us time to learn this, but now we hope that others will do [it] too.”