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Family Rescue, Interrupted: A Survivor’s Tale From Doomed Italian Cruise Ship

Panic was unleashed aboard the Costa Concordia after it ran aground Friday night off the tiny Italian island of Giglio. Claudio Masia, 49, had his entire family to rescue, from his two children to his elderly parents. In the end, he couldn't quit

A rescue helicopter circles the sunken Costa Concordia cruise ship (Matthew Price)
A rescue helicopter circles the sunken Costa Concordia cruise ship (Matthew Price)
Nicola Pinna

PORTOSCUSO - There was no time to think. Claudio Masia would simply follow his instincts – what else could he do? -- as the water rose faster and faster inside the Costa Concordia cruise ship that had just run aground off the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio. To survive, and save his family members, it would be a matter of seconds.

In those few lingering moments between life and death, Masia thought first of his children, 8 and 13, and his young niece. Then his wife, and his mother and father. It would have all had a happy ending if only the last member to be rescued, his 85-year-old father, were still there when he'd returned after bringing his mother to a lifeboat.

But when he went back to the sinking ship, Giovanni Masia had disappeared in the darkness. Over the weekend, he was among those officially missing and unaccounted for. But now, he is among the six confirmed deaths. "I looked everywhere, in the dark of the night and into the black of the sea," recalled despondently Claudio Masia.

Grandpa's holiday wish

With the rest of the family back at home in Sardinia, Masia remained in Tuscany to wait for his dad.

Indeed, it was Giovanni Masia who'd had the idea of going on a cruise with the whole family. His son Claudio, who works in the aluminum industry, accepted the invitation to accompany his parents, along with his own young family.

"We were having dinner when we heard a violent blow, and then the lights went out," Masia recounted. "We realized something serious was happening. None of the Costa personnel informed us of what was really happening. We were left alone, in jeopardy."

The alarm signal came after 40 long minutes, in which crew members downplayed the seriousness of the situation. "I rushed to get the lifejackets in the bunks. Then I headed to deck no. 4 with my wife, our children, my parents and my niece. "

Then began the physical battle to escape death, and find a spot on the lifeboats that were being lowered, slowly, into the water. "I am not ashamed to say that I pushed people and used my fists to find a safe place. One guy tried to take my daughter's lifejacket, and I grabbed her just before she almost fell into the sea."

But the situation was destined to be even more complicated for his parents. He finally managed to carry his 84-year-old mother on his shoulders to get her to where she could find a seat on a lifeboat. Masia would have done the same with his father, but he didn't get back in time. "I never saw him again," he said. "He disappeared from my view as the ship sank."

Read the original article in Italian

Photo - Matthew Price

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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