Ustica and sustainable tourism: diving and underwater fishing

"Sub" fish catches and "eco" marine practices: discovering a new type of holiday on the wonderful island off the coast of Palermo...

sustainable tourism: A view of the island of Ustica
A view of the island of Ustica (Photo: iStock Photos)

Biodiversity, a sea to protect and a territory that has so much to offer, Ustica choose sustainable tourism, focusing on diving and spearfishing, to enhance, but also defend a wonderful island. It is one of the examples of a protected marine area where sustainability is combined with the beauty of spearfishing, between good practices and awareness.

It was the first Italian marine protected area and is still an example today, in terms of innovation with a view to protecting and biodiversity of the sea. Precisely for this Ustica chooses sustainable tourism, focusing on diving and spearfishing calibrated according to its natural areas, to enhance, but also defend, a wonderful island. If it is true that tourism is the lifeblood of the island, it is equally true that the impact of non-responsible actions in the waters of an area so rich in fauna (think of the large presence of brown grouper, and amberjack) causes a significant impact on the environment.

As we have known for some time now, tourism causes a significant impact on the environment. An issue that is impossible to ignore and that brings us back to the need to choose sustainable practices and minimize harmful behavior. In particular in places like Ustica, where it is possible to find one Nature Reserve andProtected sea area.

This has led the island's institutions to find increasingly avant-garde solutions, which wink at the pleasure of experiencing the seabed without ever letting go of sustainable practices and minimizing harmful behaviour.

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sustainable tourism: the coast of Ustica
The coast of Ustica (Photo: iStock Photos)

Eco-sustainability and the fight against plastic

Over time, thanks to the increasingly present tourism in this area, the need arose to better preserve the uniqueness of the island. From this point of view, the “Isola di Ustica” MPA, with the collaboration of the Municipality of the same name, has chosen to pursue a well-defined strategy, developing a series of activities.

It is environmentally sustainable actions which aim to make the best use of renewable energy and reduce the use of plastic.

The first step towards sustainable tourism was the installation of a water house, where water is produced using a desalinator and supplied at 0,05 cents per litre. A way to dissuade the use of bottled water, thus reducing the consumption of plastic.

Enemy of sea, where it pours in the form of microplastics, the battle against plastic has also reached Ustica thanks to the installation of a machine that literally "eats" this material, guaranteeing discounts and economic advantages (such as a reduction in the TARI) for those who choose to compact used bottles.

Not only that: the Municipality has also established the creation of one renewable energy community. A collaboration between companies, public bodies and citizens to share the energy that is produced through renewable sources. Sustainable tourism also passes through the need to encourage the purchase of local products, from fruit and vegetables to small-scale artisanal fishing, and the choice of separate waste collection, focusing at the same time on recycling and reuse.

Alongside these good practices, a redevelopment of the strategic infrastructures and the water network cannot be missing, accompanied by a cultural offer that is linked to the environment and to actions aimed at sensitizing the tourist, informing him of how much the island of Ustica is precious and to protect.

Ustica tourism is characterized above all by a naturalistic imprint and by underwater tourism. The season already begins in the Easter period and continues until the first week of November with ad hoc activities, such as the International Review of Underwater Activities, an event of great tourist attraction with outdoor activities to discover the island, routes, scuba diving and diving spots.

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sustainable tourism: The splendid sea of ​​Ustica
The splendid sea of ​​Ustica (Photo: iStock Photos)

Island tourism: a successful experiment

Accessible and sustainable, tourism in Ustica follows in the wake of virtuous Italian examples, such as that of the island of Giglio, Chia and Costa Rei in Sardinia, but also of Castiglione della Pescaia. From volcanic origin, the island of Ustica, was born about a million years ago thanks to the ascent of deep magmas through a fracture in the Lower Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the peak of a huge underwater mountain that emerges 36 km from Palermo, from a depth of 2000 meters and extends for 8 km.

A real natural park to be discovered and explored, one step after another, slowly. The coasts of the island, jagged and irregular, turn into gentle slopes at times into cliffs overlooking the sea, creating hidden coves. Beautiful, pristine and rugged, Ustica is the perfect destination for those looking for a true and slow tourism, made up of the discovery of natural treasures and experiences that leave their mark.

The island has no sandy beaches, but paths carved into the rock, leading to evocative coves and coves. Swimming in the waters surrounding the island is a unique experience that allows you to find yourself next to shoals of fish, walk on the surface of the water with a mask and enjoy a natural show that has no equal.

Le sea ​​currents rich in plankton caress the island, while the crystal clear sea it houses a spectacular flora and fauna. The dives offer an enchanting scenario, with gentle slopes, caves inhabited by cowries, herds of bogues, damsels and damselfishes, mighty barracudas, brown groupers, moray eels, white bream and scorpion fish.

THEMarine Protected Area of ​​Ustica was established in November 1986 and covers more than 15.000 hectares. In these waters live tuna, snapper, amberjack, barracuda, octopus, bream, lobster and the famous brown grouper. The waters of the island are divided into various zones. Zone A is that of Integral Reserve and is 60 hectares wide. In fact, it extends from Punta Spalmatore to Punta Megna, with protected marine ecosystems, an absolute ban on navigation and fishing. There zone B is that of the General Reserve and extends for 8 thousand hectares starting from Punta Cavazzi up to Punta Omo Morto. We speak of a buffer area surrounding the area A where spearfishing is prohibited, but underwater photography is permitted. Finally in the zone C of partial reserve it is possible to practice professional fishing with authorization.

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sustainable tourism: the depths of Ustica
The seabed of Ustica (Photo: iStock Photos)