Preserving Marine Protected Areas to preserve biodiversity
Protected areas, where commercial and recreational human activities are regulated, give marine life the space it deserves to feed and reproduce. This benefits biodiversity, fishing, tourism and communities. Over the last 25 years, Alnitak has provided scientific data for the design, management and monitoring of 14 Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean and abroad. We have worked hand in hand with maritime transport, security, fishing and tourism industries. We’re proud to have supplied one of the largest databases in Europe, helping to set up protected sites for marine mammals and sea turtles. Following the success of our conservation management in the Mediterranean, we’ve expanded our work to projects in Malta, Africa and Latin America, with the help of our Ashoka Fellowship award in 2014.
Links: Natura 2000 Project, UNDP Djibouti Report
We conduct studies to assess and monitor risks to biodiversity, testing new technologies to reduce loss of marine life
Working hand-in-hand with fishermen
One of the main risks for sea turtles is long-line fishing hooks. We believe in the importance of communicating directly with fishermen, with mutual respect and trust. We share the results of our science with them, exchanging perspectives and incorporating their knowledge and experience. We then go out to sea to test measures together. This ensures that our measures are understood and accepted by fleets. In 2008, after we surveyed the diving patterns and habitat use of sea turtles, the Spanish Mediterranean longlining fleet started changing their fishing operation, using different bait and setting deeper hooks. They adopted new sea turtle bycatch handling and release protocols, saving thousands of turtles each year. These actions were based on our suggestions, reducing sea turtle by-catch in longline fisheries by 95%. Find out more about our project here.
Sperm whales and sea turtles are most at risk
Our solution: We have managed to reconfigure the maritime Traffic Separation Scheme in the Mediterranean, benefiting both the transport industry and the vulnerable species. Download our publication on reducing vessel threat to whales here.
Sea animals become entangled or mistake plastic for food
More recently, we have been investigating plastic debris in the Mediterranean, a danger to marine mammals and sea turtles. Our solution: We believe it's urgent for top down measures to be established worldwide, such as policy change and single-use plastic bans. However, we also think the consumer has the power to take actions. As a conservation group we aim to educate students, businesses and the public about the dangers of plastic pollution and what we can do to help. We’re collaborating with projects like 5 Gyres, EcoEmbes and Asociacion Ondine to raise awareness about this issue.
EDUCATION and PUBLIC outreach
Inspired by the Earthwatch Institute’s formula, we’ve opened up our research expeditions to the public. Since 1990, nearly 4,000 volunteers from 89 countries have been part of our research crews. This tried and tested formula has enabled us to ensure the continuity of our Western Mediterranean Great Pelagics Monitoring Programme for 27 years. It’s a program we feel passionate about and a great way for us to fund our marine surveys while working with amazing people. Today we're collaborating with Ocean Care, to ensure the success of the program and the protection of cetaceans in the Mediterranean Sea.
University Students and Scientists
Our ship has welcomed some of the most renowned research institutions and universities. During our research expeditions, we’ve trained over 300 university students, and the data we collected has been used in 14 doctoral theses, 17 Masters projects and numerous scientific papers in marine science and ecology.
Training and skill building is a key element when creating conservation and management plans. Alnitak has specialised in the development of training materials and workshops for policy makers, scientists, seafarers and fishermen. We’ve created “workshops at sea” and took our successful formulas abroad, contributing to international programs. Every year, we upgrade our materials with the latest scientific information and protocols for bycatch release. We train fishermen as much as they train us, sharing their knowledge from years at sea. Find out more here.
Schools and families
Documentaries and TV Appearances
BBC 21st Century Ark – (Chapter “Dolphins”)
BBC Blue Planet (Chapters “Open ocean” & “Making waves”)
New Atlantis Guardians of the Planet (Chapter “A ship for Neptune)
Bavaria TV / ARTE TV Expedition Mittelmeer (All chapters)
Todos por la Mar
One of our objectives for 2016 – 2020 is the making of a documentary film on the “blue Serengeti” and “Fishermen, guardians of the sea”.
1998 “FITUR ACTIVE”
2010 “European Green Entrepreneurship”
2015 ASHOKA Fellowship Award