Davis, Andrew, E Magazine
Thousands of Americans are probably by now preparing for their exotic summer vacations in the Mediterranean. But they're not the only ones - chances are, an illegal fleet of Italian driftnetters is, too.
Although their target is swordfish, these driftnets - due to hit the waters between Spain and Turkey by early May - will scoop up anything in their path. Last year, 12 dead sperm whales washed up on the shores of the Balearic Islands, Spain's tourist playground. Half were still wrapped in the driftnets that drowned them.
The fleet is violating both a United Nations moratorium on large-scale driftnetting, as well as the European Community's official length limit of 2.5 kilometers for small-scale driftnets. The fleet routinely fishes with nets 20 kilometers long. Although driftnetting is completely banned in Spanish waters, boats still fish there.
With the aid of local Spanish fishermen, Greenpeace's Mediterranean Campaign keeps tabs on Italian fleets fishing near Spain. Last August, the crew of Greenpeace's vessel, Rainbow Warrior, confronted them and confiscated a 3-kilometer section of a 15-kilometer driftnet. …