EU ministers must reduce fishing effort more than proposed by the European
Commission to stop the overfishing crisis of hake, mullet, shrimp and Norway lobster
Oceana warns that the European Commission’s proposal on fishing opportunities for the Mediterranean and Black Sea falls short in tackling the overfishing crisis of these seas. The acknowledged extent of fraud in vessels’ engine power requires a higher reduction of fishing effort to ensure the start of recovery of fish populations and a future for key fisheries in the region. Oceana calls on EU ministers to go beyond the proposal, as it is the critical success factor of the Western Mediterranean Multiannual Plan (WestMedMAP).
“The Mediterranean and Black Seas are the most overfished in the world. As an EU audit on engine power revealed in June, fraud is widespread and Mediterranean trawlers can operate at more than twice their registered engine power. Given this grave infringement, the number of fishing days in 2020 must be reduced. Cutting overcapacity is essential if fish are to recover to their former abundance levels in these seas”, said Nicolas Fournier, policy manager at Oceana in Europe.
Adopted in July 2019, the Plan foresees the reduction of fishing effort by setting up an annual “maximum allowable fishing effort” for Spain, France and Italy for trawl fleets fishing six main demersal species: red mullet, hake, deep-water rose shrimp, Norway lobster (langoustine), blue and red shrimp and giant red shrimp. The Maximum Sustainable Yield target should be achieved on a progressive basis by 2025 at the latest.
The General Fisheries Commission’s latest assesments for the Mediterranean on these six specific stocks show extreme overfishing situations for hake, red mullet and Norway lobster — overfished up to 15, 6 and 5 times above sustainable levels, respectively. Over 80% of the Mediterranean fish stocks are assessed as being overexploited, making it the highest overfishing rate in the world.
Oceana calls on the next Council of EU Ministers (16-17 December) to adopt a stronger fishing effort reduction than those initially proposed by the European Commission, to strengthen the sustainability pace, and rapidly rebuild stocks to restore the profitability of region’s fisheries.