Sea Shepherd is back defending Italian waters with a new catamaran

Thursday, 17 Sep, 2020

Sea Shepherd has returned to protect Italy’s Mediterranean waters with a newly-donated catamaran, the M/Y Conrad. In cooperation with Italian authorities including the Harbor Office and the Financial Police Department for Air-Naval Operations, Operation Siso is a Sea Shepherd Italy campaign to protect the Aeolian Islands from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, particularly the use of illegal Fishing Aggregating Devices (FADs).

The M/Y Conrad and its RHIB, the Hunter.

FADs don’t just help capture targeted species of fish, but also result in the death of loggerhead sea turtles (now on the verge of extinction in Italian waters) and the capture of juvenile swordfish and amberjacks not mature enough to be fished legally.

Illegal FADs are also one the biggest sources of plastic pollution in the region, with industrial fleets releasing polyethylene FADs by the hundreds, thus exceeding the 20 allowed by the local ordinance and violating biodegradability regulations.

The RHIB Hunter and an FAD.

According to recent studies*, there are currently 10,000 illegal FADs in thsouthern Tyrrhenian Sea with an estimated 20,000 km of polypropylene and hundreds of thousands of plastic bottles and cans (used to keep FADs afloat). Approximately 1.6 million FADs and 5.3 million plastic bottles and cans have been dumped in the Mediterranean Sea in the past 60 years.

The M/Y Conrad crew with Admiral DeGiorgi and Andrea Morello.

Support and a New Boat

This year’s campaign is being conducted onboard the M/Y Conrad, a 17-meter catamaran donated by Jane Patterson and Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni (the latter a member of Sea Shepherd Global and US Board of Advisors and Sea Shepherd Italia’s Council of the Wise). 

“The extensive collaboration with the Italian Authorities offers a unique and extraordinary opportunity to protect our seas, combining the enthusiasm of the precious Sea Shepherd volunteers with the professionalism and courage of the Law Enforcement,” says Castiglioni. “The protection of all species threatened by the various forms of illegal fishing is urgent and indispensable."

Capable of carrying up to fourteen crew members and equipped with a RHIB fast boat, the Conrad is now captained by Lodovico Leonetti (and will be captained by former Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy, Admiral Giuseppe de Giorgi), along with Andrea Morello, President of Sea Shepherd Italy and campaign leader of Operation Siso Campaign.

It is a great honor for me to be able to return to defend our Mediterranean Sea with a new boat donated by Jane Patterson and Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni,” says Morello. “From today, another bow will sail the sea waving the Jolly Roger, armed with passion and determination to protect and defend dolphins, turtles, sharks, sperm whales and every inhabitant of the sea. Thanks Jane and Sebastiano, thanks dear friends, our hearts will be forever grateful to you."

The M/Y Conrad's captain and boatswain on the Bridge.

About Operation Siso

Siso was a young Sperm Whale who died in 2017 after being entangled in an illegal "spadara" type net during the passage through the Aeolian Islands. The heroic attempt to free him took the Coast Guard many hours, but it was not possible to save him. Siso was found lifeless along the coast of Capo Milazzo by the biologist Carmelo Isgrò, who preserved the skeleton, the net that killed him and the plastic extracted from his stomach, as a warning for future generations. Launched in 2018, Operation SISO owes its name to the nickname of the friend who had helped the biologist Isgrò in the recovery of the Sperm Whale and who died in a car accident in the following days.

Read more about Operation Siso here:

* Source: Journal of Environmental Management


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