Oceana: EU Mediterranean countries jeopardise fisheries management again
On 19 May, the FAO General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) closed its annual meeting, without having taken any decision to address the steepest ever decline in Mediterranean fish stocks, says Oceana.
Although 96% of Mediterranean demersal fish stocks are overfished, and GFCM scientists have recommended significant reductions of fishing pressure, Oceana was alarmed that Mediterranean states “turned a deaf ear” to the recommendations and instead opted to maintain status quo.
María José Cornax, fisheries campaign manager for Oceana Europe, and observer at the meeting, expressed the organisation’s strong disappointment over the outcome: “Mediterranean countries’ chronic ‘fish-and-run’ approach is pushing the region’s fisheries to their very limits.”
Oceana says that the underlying problems are not limited to GFCM. Resistance to carrying out actual management came directly from European Union internal negotiations, where countries such as France, Italy, and Spain blocked any attempt to manage Mediterranean fisheries.
Despite this outcome, Oceana acknowledges one significant achievement of the meeting. For the first time, GFCM adopted measures for the management and conservation of sharks and rays in the Mediterranean, the region of highest risk in the world for these fishes. Twenty-three Mediterranean countries endorsed a proposal from the EU that bans the unsustainable practice of shark finning, prohibits trawling in some sensitive near-shore habitats, and requires countries to collect and report data on catches of some threatened species.