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Oceans and fisheries
News article29 October 2021Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Not a raw fish: SUSHI DROP project helps sustainable fisheries with EU support

Sushishop project

Ecosystems knowledge is essential to assess the state of marine resources, such as fish stocks, and underwater environment, thus enable sound decision- and policymaking. Meanwhile,  traditional assessment technique, such as fish capture, can be extremely invasive, including a high risk of capturing many non-targeted organisms. The Italian-Croatian SUSHI DROP project aims to develop an accurate and non-invasive method for mapping of marine ecosystems, using anunmanned underwater vehicle or “UVV”.

We believe to know the Adriatic Sea. However, even in the most accurate surveys of the benthonic communities, sampling are collected every 10-15 km and the knowledge is necessarily limited and partial,

says Prof. Corrado Piccinetti – director of the Laboratory of Marine Biology in Fano (University of Bologna).

UUV technology has evolved over the last few years, from simple demonstrators developed by research institutes to commercial products. Today, it is possible to use UVVs in ecosystems monitoring, thanks to the improved capabilities of carrying out surveys without interfering with the seabed - and at reduced costs, compared to oceanographic vessels.

The UVV technology gives us the possibility to significantly increase this common knowledge, potentially mapping the whole Adriatic Sea without any impact on living organisms,

underlines Prof. Piccinetti

SUSHI DROP stands for “SUstainable fiSHeries wIth DROnes data Processing” (and is unrelated with the popular Japanese dish!). The EU-funded project is led by the University of Bologna in partnership with the Croatian Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, the Marche Region - Fisheries Economy Department, the Fisheries Local Action Group Costa dei Trabocchi, the Association for Nature, Environment and Sustainable Development Sunce and the County of Split-Dalmatia. SUSHI DROP has developed a customized UUV (named “Blucy”), equipped with advanced instruments to implement a non-invasive environmental assessment of habitats, fish stocks population and, in general, monitoring biodiversity. So far, two missions have been conducted to confirm the capabilities and performance of “Blucy”, even in adverse marine and weather conditions. During these test runs, the researchers have collected biophysical data, videos and high-resolution images.

Thanks to the advanced technologies of the drone, such as the multibeam and high-resolution camera, it is possible to obtain a complete description of a given underwater area, from a morphological as well as a fauna point of view, highlighting benthic communities, fish and rock formations.

Moreover, the project is building a dedicated open-access database, to maintain and share the scientific data acquired by Blucy during scientific missions conducted in Croatian and Italian waters. The overall ambition is to combine the collected and georeferenced information gathered by the UUVs with information on fishing pressures to better understand the sensitivities of the habitats and to design and implement more effective marine management plans.

Through the INTERREG Italy-Croatia CBC Programme, the EU supports regional cooperation, and this project underpins the EU’s commitment to preserve biodiversity and supports research, innovation and ocean science.

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October is a very important month for biodiversity preservation, climate change remediation, marine research and sustainable blue economy. Find out more information on the latest EU action to face those global challenges, in the Arctic and elsewhere and check out the October edition of Euronews Ocean episode ”Coral Reefs”.

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Publication date
29 October 2021
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries