Med countries commit to fight illegal fishing, preserve ecosystems

Date: November 11, 2019

Source: Undercurrent News

The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) — under the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization — has moved to increase fisheries transparency, protect threatened corals, and preserve fish breeding grounds.

The enforcement of a package of measures will be vital to help revert the “overfishing crisis” of this sea, said NGO Oceana, since they will create areas where fish can reproduce safely and will hinder illegal fishing.

“Mediterranean countries have taken an important step to restore the abundance of this sea and protect some of its most vulnerable wildlife. Oceana urges them now to enforce these decisions and adopt robust compliance systems including sanctions, so that these decisions are truly effective. GFCM’s credibility will be at stake as long as the Mediterranean remains the world’s most overexploited sea,” said Pascale Moehrle, executive director for Oceana Europe.

Oceana particularly welcomed commitments to fight illegal fishing, protect corals and fish habitats, and comply with “fisheries restricted areas”, or FRAs.

GFCM has adopted a transparency mechanism requiring countries to report annually all the fisheries agreements in force between their fleet and third countries. Additionally, the GFCM IUU [illegal, unregulated and unreported] list will be strengthened by adding a requirement for countries to ensure that their nationals do not support and benefit from IUU fishing.

For the first time in the Mediterranean, a regulatory framework has been adopted to set protection measures for endangered or threatened coral species from the impact of fishing. 

A new management plan has been adopted in the Adriatic for hake, red mullet, sole and shrimp, which includes temporal coastal closures to trawling (over 40,000 square kilometers) to protect juvenile aggregations. The plan will also look to establish FRAs to protect additional nursery or spawning grounds of those demersal stocks.

Oceana also welcomed a commitment adopted to ban single-use plastics in all GFCM meetings, making it the world’s first regional fisheries management organization to adopt such a measure.

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