Milan - Today the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean Sea (GFCM) closes the doors on its annual meeting. For the first time in its 60 year history, the Commission, composed of representatives from Mediterranean and Black Sea countries, has agreed to fisheries management measures aimed at recovering fish stocks in the region. Until now, the stocks have remained unmanaged for decades and subjected to severe overfishing (91% of stocks).
Oceana Executive Director, Lasse Gustavsson, has welcomed this encouraging step: “Mediterranean States have taken an important first step forward in the restoration of overfished stocks in the Strait of Sicily. A comprehensive multiannual plan will help end the overfishing of shrimp and hake, half of which are juvenile fish”. Gustavsson has also pointed out that the strong measures should be taken urgently: “The basis of a management plan is set but the parties have failed in agreeing strong reductions of fishing pressures and closures to protect juvenile fish this year, which have been postponed to 2016. Governments now have one year to prove they are serious and will take all necessary action to ensure a future for Mediterranean fisheries”.
The management plan agreed by the GFCM includes a minimum landing size for hake and shrimp, an authorized fishing vessel registry, and features monitoring measures for all Tunisian and EU vessels participating in the fisheries. It also requests scientists to provide advice by next year in reducing the impacts of the fisheries, including the closures of key nurseries and spawning areas.
Oceana however regrets that the parties postponed a discussion on the proposal by the GFCM Scientific Advisory Committee to close 3 key nursery areas for hake and shrimp. These closures are urgently needed to protect juvenile fish and are sufficiently backed by science. The parties have committed to consider this proposal in the upcoming meeting in 2016.