Oceana urges Mediterranean countries to preserve young and undersized fish in the Mediterranean in order to restore fish stocks of the world’s most overfished sea. As FAO’s General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) is to meet in Athens next week, Oceana calls for all new management plans to protect spawning and breeding grounds (Essential Fish Habitats). Additionally, it is vital that minimum landing sizes are set for all commercial species as part of the post-2020 strategy of this international body.
“It is unacceptable that one out of three fish discarded overboard is undersized in the Mediterranean, the world’s most overfished sea. Oceana urges to preserve the areas where fish spawn and breed, and to adopt minimum landing sizes for all commercial species. There is enough scientific data to support both measures, and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean should start working on them as of 2020”, said Nicolas Fournier, policy manager at Oceana in Europe.
In June, ministers from GFCM countries reiterated their commitments to rebuild sustainable fisheries in the region and to deliver the MedFish4Ever Declaration. Oceana urges countries to walk the talk and to adopt several proposals that will be presented next week by the European Union:
- New management plans (blackspot seabream in Alboran Sea, shrimps in the Strait of Sicily, demersal species in the Adriatic, red coral, turbot in the Black Sea), as these will help rebuild fisheries to sustainable levels and ensure higher compliance with rules.
- Protection of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and coral species, some of which are critically endangered and impacted by destructive fishing activities, such as bottom trawling, and an inventory of current control and surveillance in existing Fisheries Restricted Areas.
- Measures to increase the transparency of fishing operations, such as disclosing publically fishing access agreements in waters of third countries, and improving satellite monitoring of the fleet.
- Reinforcement of compliance and sanctions, and strengthening the GFCM IUU list by adding a requirement for countries to ensure that their nationals do not benefit from or support Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities, including through the provision of services to IUU fishing vessels.
- Minimising cetacean bycatch through the implementation of bycatch mitigation measures and improved data collection