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Sea change: how one small stretch of coastline in Italy transformed itself

Sea change: how one small stretch of coastline in Italy transformed itself
By Denis Loctier

A stretch of coastline in southern Italy is leading the way in sustainability – with some surprising benefits.

Torre Guaceto was once a centre for poor fishing practices, cigarette smuggling and a drop-off point for illegal immigrants.

But that all began to change when the area was designated a marine protected reserve.

The dunes and wetlands along the coastline are now a precious stop-off point for migratory birds and a permanent home to many local species. Eco-tourists are also flocking to the area.

Local businesses are benefiting too, boosting their sales by associating their brands with the now famous Torre Guaceto protected area.

Corrado Tarantino, President of the Torre Guaceto management consortium, told Ocean how it all came about.

“We progressed from blast fishing in the past to a sustainable fishing model that is now copied and reproduced around the world. Every year, people from Italy and from other countries come here to visit and learn about our approach, which proved itself economically sustainable.

“The fishermen’s cooperative lives on — but now it’s also environmentally sustainable, as it prevents depopulation of the sea.

“With regard to agriculture, it moved from increasing its production by very intensive use of chemicals to establishing an organic Torre Guaceto label for products that are now famous around the world — such as the local olive oil or the typical local sort of tomatoes, ‘Pomodoro Fiaschetto’, which have been rediscovered, refined and are now grown here once again.

“As for tourism — we are certified under the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas that includes all the tourist sites and hotel facilities. It shows that it’s possible to remain profitable while fully respecting local nature and life.

“And we want to show that all this is not only possible in the areas that have joined in the Torre Guaceto Consortium, but all around the world. Because we’re convinced that this would benefit everybody, making everyone’s life much better.”