Local politicians in Capri are urging the government to establish a protected marine reserve around the southern Italian island in an effort to protect its marine ecosystem threatened by illegal fishing and boat overcrowding.
Underwater rocks surrounding Capri, a glamorous tourist destination off Naples, are filled with holes made by fishermen illegally harvesting date mussels, a police video showed.
The valuable shellfish sell at up to 200 euros ($241.34) per kilo on the black market.
A three-year police investigation broke up two organisations that used drills and hammers to harvest the shellfish from the rocks, including from the three “Faraglioni” formations which are a symbol of the island, off its southeastern coast.
Compounding the effects of illegal fishing on Capri’s coast are hundreds of motor boats which pollute the surrounding waters during the summer tourist season.
Capri has long been a favoured retreat for the rich and famous, including Hollywood stars and Italy’s business elite.
“We decided to protect our ecosystem not only because of the illegal date mussel fishing but also because more and more boats have arrived on our coast in recent years,” said Paola Mazzina, a Capri local councillor.
Mazzina said they are about halfway through completing a project for a marine reserve to present to the government, and in the meantime they are working to introduce limitations to boat access to the Marina Piccola Bay, one of the areas worst affected by overcrowding.