Western Med management plan
A multi-annual plan has been set out towards bringing more stability, transparency and sustainability to western Mediterranean fisheries, with multi-annual plan for fish stocks in the western Mediterranean Sea proposed by the European Commission.
The proposal covers demersal fish stocks that bring a significant income to the fisheries sector in the region. According to the latest data, it is estimated that in 2015, French, Italian and Spanish vessels landed around 100,000 tonnes of demersal fish, valued at €675 million.
Catches for these stocks have significantly decreased by around 23% since the early 2000s. At this rate more than 90% of the stocks assessed would be overfished by 2025. Without the collective pooling of effort foreseen by this plan, around 1500 vessels would be at financial risk by 2025. Today's proposal aims to restore these stocks to levels that can ensure social and economic viability for the fishermen and the more than 16000 jobs that depend on it.
"Today's proposal for a multi-annual plan is a direct follow-up to the MedFish4Ever Declaration from 2017,” said Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella.
“It aims to reach a healthy level of fish stocks needed to prevent a loss of jobs and to sustain important economic sectors that depend on fisheries. It brings us one step closer to making Mediterranean fisheries more sustainable. We need to act, and we need to act with urgency. Only then can we secure our common objective to allow fisheries to sustain fishermen and the economy for years to come".
Main elements of the proposal include:
- *Setting fishing targets for the most commercially important demersal stocks: hake, red mullet, deep-water rose shrimp, Norway lobster, blue and red shrimp and giant red shrimp.
- *Simplifying fisheries management under one main regulatory framework. The plan will be co-ordinated at EU level and apply for all trawlers operating in the region. Each year, on the basis of scientific advice, the Council would decide the maximum number of fishing days or each fleet category by Member State.
- *Reducing fishing activities in the first year of the plan in line with the scientific advice, given the worrying situation of most demersal stocks.
- *Restricting trawlers from operating in areas with depths of less than 100 metres from 1st May to 31st July each year, reserving the coastal zone for more selective gears. This is intended to protect nursery areas and sensitive habitats, and enhance the social sustainability of small-scale fisheries.
- *Establishing regional cooperation among France, Italy and Spain. Provisions for the landing obligation and technical conservation measures could be put forward by the Member States concerned, in close collaboration with the fishing sector.
These proposals, allied with a long-term approach, are expected to create more stability and greater transparency as the three Member States concerned would jointly adapt current fishing targets to sustainable levels through the Council.
It also ensures a consistent approach with other EU multi-annual plans, especially with regard to the recent agreement reached by the European Parliament and Council on the North Sea plan.
The Commission's proposal is now submitted for discussion to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
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