The incidental capture of vulnerable species, also known as bycatch, including taxa like sharks and rays, sea turtles, marine mammals, sea birds as well as benthic marine organisms like corals and sponges, is a key conservation issue in the Mediterranean and worldwide.
Bycatch on fishing gears often leads to significant injuries or even death from drowning. However, this is not just a conversation issue. It is well known now that bycatch and vulnerable species-fisheries interactions could lead to significant economic loss of fishers due to the reduced quality of catch, loss of catch and damage on fishing gear.
The current measures available for mitigating the issue of bycatch are often ineffective or they have very low effect. Awareness and training of fishers on how to safely handle and release vulnerable species could be an effective long-term solution. Safe handling and release refer to using best practice methods for dealing with bycatch species, to maximise their chances of survival after interacting with fishing gear.