Sea Shepherd Granted Enforcement Authority in the Med

Thursday, 24 Aug, 2023

For the first time in Italy, Sea Shepherd volunteers have been granted authority to enforce laws against illegal fishing in Calabria.

Sea Shepherd volunteers on the Hunter small boat in Calabria. Photo by Jacopo Casati/Sea Shepherd.

Italy’s unique biodiversity, both on land and in its waters, faces a growing threat from activities like poaching, endangering numerous species and the entire ecosystem. Yet, determined conservationists are making strides to protect their marine resources, with a significant recent development. Thanks to the Calabria region’s executive decree n° 2717, Sea Shepherd Italy has launched a groundbreaking project – with selected Sea Shepherd crew gaining authority to inspect fishing vessels, seize gear and fine vessels for illegal fishing.

“Getting our volunteers qualified as Guardia di Mare (Sea Guards) is definitely a milestone for Sea Shepherd," says Andrea Morello, president of Sea Shepherd Italy Foundation. "As of today, we will be able to cooperate even more proficiently with the authorities in Calabria, directly providing support in enforcing regulation with our vessels and volunteers. Qualified volunteers are authorized to act as public officers within the framework of fishing and environmental protection, carrying out monitoring, sanctioning, prevention and information activities."

Guardia di Mare are individuals that are specifically trained to defend and protect marine wildlife and monitor compliance with national laws regulating fishing in Italy. Over the past few years, Sea Shepherd Italy volunteers have become increasingly qualified, playing a pivotal role in the successful repopulation of endangered species within national waters. The new executive decree presented them with a valuable opportunity to consolidate Sea Shepherd’s cooperation with national authorities and local law enforcement in Calabria – a region particularly focused on environmental protection – with the goal of ending poaching and illegal fishing in Italy.

Our volunteers have taken up the challenge and followed intensive, high-level training to obtain Guardia di Mare certification. Among them was Cesare Colonna, head of Sea Shepherd Italy’s Legal Department, who acted as legal counsel throughout the entire process. It’s thanks to our Legal Department that we are able to stay constantly updated on all regulations in force to safeguard Italy’s extensive natural heritage.

Sea Shepherd volunteers all passed their exams with flying colors, officially qualifying as Guardia di Mare with jurisdiction over national public and private waters. From now on, they will be patrolling the coasts of Calabria together with the Coast Guard and the Capitaneria di Porto.

"Italy, with its 7000 km coastline and its unique position in the heart of the Mediterranean, is the first country in Europe to legally recognize a figure dedicated to marine conservation, and I hope more regions will soon follow Calabria’s example in prioritizing legality and protecting the sea that we owe the development of our civilization to, in order to build a genuinely sustainable world for future generations.”

Andrea Morello, president of Sea Shepherd Italy Foundation
Sea Shepherd volunteers on the Hunter small boat in Calabria. Photo by Jacopo Casati/Sea Shepherd.

Sea Shepherd always acts within the law and seeks partnerships with local organizations and national authorities. We're confident this new project in Calabria will open new leads in more regions.

Learn more about Sea Shepherd's campaigns in Italy:
Operation Siso
Operation Monk Seal Defense
Operation Siracusa

Apply here to become a crew member:

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