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Spot the Alien Fish campaign launched

22 November 2016

Following the success of the Spot the Jellyfish campaign, first launched in 2010, the University of Malta, through Prof. Alan Deidun, has teamed up once again with the IOI (International Ocean Institute), as well as with the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Friends of the Earth and ISPRA (Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale) of Italy, to launch yet another citizen science campaign, this time dealing with non-indigenous fish species. The first step within such an initiative has been the design and printing of an A3 colour poster which is laminated, so as to render it waterproof, with the poster being distributed to all local fishermen and SCUBA diving clubs.

The poster features photographs for a total of 32 fish species which have entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal (i.e. species of Red Sea or Indo-Pacific origin – the so-called Lessepsian migrants) or through the Straits of Gibraltar (i.e. species of Atlantic origin, which are not considered to be alien or exotic species). The ultimate aim of this campaign is to monitor in the long-term any population changes within our waters of the selected alien fish species, as part of an informal transboundary observation network on alien marine species established between Malta, Tunisia and Sicily.

The selected 32 fish species have either been recently recorded in Maltese waters or are as yet unknown from the same waters but have been recorded from contiguous regions, such as Sicily and Tunisia. The user-friendly poster gives indications on the point of entry of each fish in the Mediterranean, whilst also identifying the toxic (unfit for consumption) and the venomous (unfit for handling) species.

Photos of caught or observed fish individuals (not only belonging to the 32 species included in the poster) should be sent to aliensmalta@gmail.com. Alternatively, contact can be made over the phone through the following numbers: 79604109, 22926888.