Meet Projecte Sèpia – Star Award winner 2022!

Boris Weitzmann receives the Star Award on behalf of Projecte Sèpia

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On the 2nd of December, we awarded the Star Award winners 2021/22 during our ECST and Star Award Ceremony in the European Parliament. Keep on reading to learn more about Projecte Sèpia (ES), winner in the special “Innovation” Category!

The International Jury decided to create a special award on Innovation to acknowledge the originality of this conservation project and the strong cooperation with fishermen, schools and tourist business.

Projecte Sèpia – A community coming together to restore the marine environment

Local fisherman and gear, Projecte Sèpia

The Projecte Sèpia was born with the aim of improving the breeding conditions of cephalopods and repopulating the waters of the Empordà. Together with local, artisanal fishermen, the project wants to preserve traditional fishing and promote sustainable practices.

The Empordà bays struggle with a great decline of cuttlefish. This threatens the livelihoods of local fisherman and has gravitating social and environmental repercussions. The Sèpia project aims to ensure the reproduction of cephalopods and the incorporation of juveniles into the populations of the Empordà bays and raise awareness on the importance of the sea and sustainable tourism.

To support the dwindling cuttlefish numbers, scientists working in the project have installed underwater cuttlefish spawners (called Sepieres) made from branches in l’Escala and L’Estartit to create a protected place for cuttlefish and squid. This work is carried out together with local fishermen and technicians from the Montgrí-Medes Natural Park. These nurseries are then avoided by sailors and fishermen, favouring the reproduction of cuttlefish and squid.

Besides this action, artisanal fishermen have been coordinated to retrieve the cephalopod’s eggs that have been attached to their fishing gear and placed in incubator cages. This way the eggs can hatch normally and the youngsters incorporate to the biomass of the bays.

More than 1,5 million eggs have been saved in three years by these actions.

Educational Activities of Projecte Sèpia

Apart from active conservation and collaboration with local stakeholders, Projecte Sèpia is also part of the educational project ‘El Parc a l’Escola’ of the Parc Natural del Montgrí illes Medes and Baix Ter. They create activities for students and families like counting cuttlefish and squid eggs and presenting the Marine Protected Area. The education actions at the artificial spawners for the cuttlefish are carried out in places that are easily accessible on foot or by swimming from the beach. This way, each year more than 200 students from the Natural Park school have learned to value the Natural Park, artisanal fishing and local products.

In 2022 a tourist activity has started in which visitors sail on an ancient fishing boat to learn about traditional fishing, about the Projecte Sepia and about the MPA of the Natural Park.

Congratulations to Projecte Sèpia on their extraordinary work!