Roma, 12 Aprile 2023 Press release

World Dolphin Day (April 14)
Cetaceans stranded on Italian coasts: 162 in 2022 and 30 in early 2023.
Majority of specimens found are dolphins.
European Life Delfi project launches Code of Conduct for fishermen.
“a document open to everyone’s input, could be the first step toward ecological certification of the catch.”


Cetaceans stranded on Italian coasts, the toll of marine mammals found lifeless continues to be worrying: 162 specimens were found stranded along Italy’s coasts in 2022, while the count for the first three months of 2023 already stands at 30. The data emerge from the “Beached Data Bank,” managed by CIBRA of the University of Pavia and the Museum of Natural History in Milan, and confirm the trend of recent years. Highlighting these data is the team of the Life Delfi project, co-financed by the European Union LIFE Program and coordinated by IRBIM-CNR, which is proposing the adoption of a “Code of Conduct” for fishermen on the occasion of World Dolphin Day on April 14.
A significant amount of stranded cetaceans are classified by experts as “undetermined” (34 in 2022), that is, cases where the species cannot be traced due to the state of decomposition. But it is clear from the data that the cetaceans most involved in beachings are dolphins: 71 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and 48 stenellas (Stenella coeruleoalba) were found in Italy in 2022. The deaths of these beautiful marine mammals can be attributed to natural causes but also to anthropogenic causes. In particular, the dolphins’ interactions with professional fishing activities: dolphins report serious injuries from interactions with fishing gear, or become entangled or wrapped in nets after approaching boats in search of food. Thanks to CERT of the University of Padua, a project partner, a diagnostic framework adopted at the national level for the first time by C.Re.Di.Ma., which coordinates the Italian beach network, was developed for application during necropsies on dolphins. The goal of the Life Delfi project is precisely to limit interactions between dolphins and professional fishing, a phenomenon that implies serious consequences for the cetaceans but also for fishermen who suffer, in spite of themselves, substantial economic losses due to the damage dolphins cause to fishing gear during interactions.”That’s why the Life Delfi project has been engaged for more than three years in involving and raising awareness among fishermen who have been provided with state-of-the-art acoustic and visual deterrents along with low environmental impact fishing gear, while training courses have been organized for all sea operators to implement alternative economic activities such as dolphin watching,” explains Alessandro Lucchetti, IRBIM-CNR researcher and Life Delfi project coordinator.
The Life Delfi team has already tested new fishing techniques with fishermen through the dissemination of environmentally friendly gear such as creels to replace gillnets among the most risky for dolphins.”We have seen a lot of willingness on the part of fishermen and above all willingness so that unwanted catches are reduced,” says Federica Barbera, Legambiente’s Protected Areas and Biodiversity office. “Many fishermen have tried to set aside their fishing methods used for years and test innovative sustainable fishing techniques and alternative equipment such as the creels of the Life Delfi project. The Code of Conduct for Fishers developed by Legambiente, in collaboration with Life Delfi partners, is a document that defines principles of responsibility and good practices to be adopted in order to achieve sustainable conservation and management of fishery resources and, at the same time, enable the preservation of the biodiversity of the seas. “It is a document that is open to everyone’s contribution,” Barbera concludes, “and which we will disseminate through the organization of ad hoc meetings with sea operators, the adoption of the Code of Conduct could be the first step toward an eco-labeling certification for the catch of those who adhere to it.Life Delfi, a project co-funded by the European Commission through the LIFE program, coordinated by Irbim-Cnr and in which Legambiente Onlus, the Universities of Padua and Siena, four Marine Protected Areas (Punta Campanella, Egadi Islands, Tavolara – Punta Coda Cavallo, Torre del Cerrano), Filicudi Wildlife Conservation and the Blue World Institute (Croatia) are collaborating.


Ascolta “Pesca sostenibile, Life Delfi indica il percorso verso le certificazioni” su Spreaker.