Houtiyat : Who? Where? Why? How?

Publié le par HOUTIYAT


In 2010, in Sayada city, two engineer researchers who work on the interaction between cetaceans and fishing nets, an international expert in animal welfare and some PhD students in marine science and in cetology decided to create the unique and first association in Tunisia dedicated to cetaceans. In 2013, we have more than 1700 fans and supporters from all the coastal zones of Tunisia. Members are engineers, researchers and PhD students on marine sciences. We have also with us veterinarians and citizens lovers of the sea and of dolphins.


Sayada city is located in the central-east of Tunisia in the Governorate of Monastir. This town can represent all coastal towns around the Mediterranean Sea because they faced the same threats: The great demographic pressure on coastal zones, industrial effluent reversed in the sea without treatment, the increase of the fishing effort and overexploitation of certain fishery resources, the increase of the marine traffic, and of course the problem of fishermen with dolphins especially between purse seiners and Tursiops truncatus.


Cetaceans in the Tunisian regulations:

Dolphins are totally protected within Tunisian territorial waters by national laws. This protection is ensured by the Law on Fishery n°94-13, January 31, 1994, and by the Ministerial Decree of September 28, 1995, that manages the organization of Fisheries. The Tunisian legislation prohibits the harassment, capture, trade, and the maintenance of cetaceans in captivity within its territory. Tunisia ratified most of the international convention in the field of protecting cetaceans and biodiversity.

 The situation:

• We have lack of information on the abundance of cetaceans in our seas. Only two surveys were accomplished in 2004 and 2006 using the “line transect” technique.

• The Interaction between dolphins and fishing nets and the damages they cause are becoming a great problem in Tunisia. As a result there are more and more stranded mutilated dolphins.

• At present, in Tunisia there are more and more boats called "Pirate's boats" that propose trips in the sea for recreational activities and for dolphin watching.

• The problem of dolphins in captivity is new in Tunisia. There is one dolphinarium which began its activity in 2010 with a special administrative authorization. Two other projects are under study.


In all Tunisian fishing ports, it's quite impossible to talk about dolphin protection and conservation. The majority of fishermen consider dolphins as a pest and most of them use different tools to harm and to kill dolphins.

In Sayada, Houtiyat members spent a lot of time hearing the complaint of fishermen about pollution and dolphins. We then propose to test some “pingers”. After that we ask fishermen to participate to "Operation Delphis". Little by little fishermen became confident.

For us this is the most important result after the three years of Houtiyat activities. We often speak about dolphin conservation with fishermen in the coffee shop of the port.

This cooperation with fishermen is vital for Houtiyat because we can have the newest information about the dolphins of the region and it’s very important to provide fishermen with information about dolphin life and ecological position. We also focus on how important it is to accept dolphins in the sea and to consider the damage on the nets as a natural fact -like "bad weather" for example.

Houtiyat’s main objective is to promote “Peace” between Dolphins & Fishermen

For this reason our strategy in Sayada city targets fishermen, dolphins and young students.

For fishermen:

- Introducing innovative and passive fishing techniques (like set-nets),

- Testing the last generation of “dissuasive devices” to protect nets from dolphin attacks,

- Introducing a new activity for the fishermen: "Pesca-turismo”. Tourists spend a day or a night with fishermen on the boat in the sea.

For dolphins:

- Estimation of the abundance of the population of Tursiops truncatus in our region (the fishing zones around kuriat islands).

- Organizing “Opération Delphis”: this annual action was initiated in France by RIMMO and now it's a Mediterranean action with the participation of Morocco, France, Italy, Malta and Monaco. The objective of this action is to have an idea about the presence of cetaceans in a fixed day in a fixed zone. The participants make observations (of cetaceans, turtles, jellyfish …etc), take photos and some samples of sea water for further analyses. This action is very important because it's done with the cooperation of fishermen as the operation is carried out in their boats. Scientists, students and simple sea lovers can take part to this annual action. The Tunisian editions that took place in the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 were a great success.

- Promoting a new label "Ecopirates" for the boats that propose “dolphin watching”. In fact, the increasing number of boats called "pirate boats"' and even Jet Ski, looking for dolphins, cause a great disturbance and harassment to dolphins because pirate's boats don't know anything about a "responsible dolphin watching". We want to begin this action with one "pirate boat" in Sayada port to raise boat owners’ awareness to this issue and to help them better manage this type of action.

For young students:

Houtiyat is targeting elementary school pupils in Sayada. Most of them have a fisherman in their family. It's important to work with them and to give them the right information about marine life and the need to preserve and to take care of all marine fauna and flora and Dolphins; sensitization is a major target.

Houtiyat developed some educational games and with our partner, a Tunisian editor, we edited booklets called "the deep blue sea" for young pupils aged 6 to 10. Those booklets talk about the Mediterranean Sea, dolphins, turtles, jellyfish ...etc. The booklets are available in Arabic, French and English languages. In the "National Cetacean Day" celebrated in June 1st 2013, the three elementary schools of Sayada were mobilized and about 300 young students participated in this event.

Other activities:

We also organize two actions annually for our members and for their families:

- “Chelba party”: A dinner based on regional seafood specialties and screening of the newest marine documentary of the year.

- The “Dolphin friend’s Party”: A trip to Kuriat islands to discover the last nesting zone of Caretta in Tunisia. For young participants, we offer educative games on endangered marine species.

Our partners:

To undertake those actions, Houtiyat works in close partnership with:

 International organizations and associations: the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), « Réserve Internationale Maritime en Méditerranée Occidentale » (RIMMO), « Jeune Chambre Internationale » (JCI), “Association pour la Culture et les Arts Méditerranéens » (ACAM) and the « Tunisian Association for the Development of Artisanal Fisheries” (ATDEPA).

Universities and national research institutes working on marine sciences: Higher Institute of Biotechnology of Monastir (ISBM), National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia (INAT) and the The National Institute of Marine Science and Technology (INSTM).

Local authorities of Sayada city and local representation of fishermen.


Our links:

Web site: www.houtiyat.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HOUTIYAT

Email: houtiyat.cetaces.tunisie@gmail.com



Publié dans Dauphins

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