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Sculptures Stop Illegal Trawling

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

In an effort to stop illegal trawling, an Italian fisherman persuaded sculptors to create huge marble artworks - then dropped them in the Mediterranean off the Tuscan coast.

While Italian law bans trawling within three nautical miles of the coast, it’s so profitable that it’s not uncommon for boats to carry on illegally at night. Some employ lookouts to warn against the coast guard, or use devices to shield their GPS signal. And the trawlers devastate the marine ecosystem, as the nets are weighed down with heavy chains that drag along the sea bottom uprooting all the seagrass that's key to the Mediterranean ecosystem because sea bream, lobsters and red gurnards lay their eggs there - and seagrass also plays a vital role in carbon capture.

So, a local fisherman, Paolo Fanciulli, has taken matters into his own hands and has become something of a local hero. He got permission from Arpa, the agency for environmental protection, to drop 80 giant concrete blocks into the sea at his own expense. Still, however, he wasn’t satisfied, and his thoughts turned to the shipwrecks he’d loved as a boy. “I didn’t just want concrete,” he says. “I was fascinated with beautiful antiquities underwater.”

He began to wonder: what if, instead of dropping concrete blocks into the water, he dropped art? He asked a quarry in nearby Carrara if they could donate two marble blocks that he could use to make sculptures, and they donated 100 instead

Via word of mouth, contributions from tourists and online crowdfunding, Fanciulli persuaded several artists to carve sculptures from the marble. Then he took them out to sea and lowered them in. The underwater sculptures create both a physical barrier for nets and a unique underwater museum. The sculptures are placed in a circle, 4m apart, with an obelix at the centre carved by the Italian artist Massimo Catalani.

Another sculptor, Emily Young, provided four sculptures each weighing 12 tons, she calls 'guardians'; nearby lies a mermaid by the young artist Aurora Vantaggiato. Massimo Lippi contributed 17 sculptures representing Siena’s contrade (medieval districts).

This under-water 'museum' is open to anyone who can arrange a visit - either through guided scuba tours or by arranging their own dive.

Source: Guardian

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