Future of mediterranean fisheries bodes badly following weak outcome of GFCM meeting

Despite evidence that 92% of assessed stocks are overfished, Mediterranean countries refuse to reduce fishing pressure.

Press Release Date: May 17, 2013

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Split, Croatia – The 37th annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) closed with the failure to take strong action in addressing the dramatic state of Mediterranean fish stocks. Oceana is appalled by the inertia of this Commission and concerned that this is a negative starting point for the reform of an agreement that is supposed to deliver solutions for the dwindling status of Mediterranean stocks.

María José Cornax, fisheries campaign manager at Oceana in Europe, stated: “This is a critical time for the GFCM as its funding text is undergoing a process of review. It is clear that a strong political commitment to restore fish stocks is a requirement for success, yet the first message sent by these countries has been a complete disregard of the repeated warnings from scientists. This begs to question whether we can hope for a future of Mediterranean fisheries at all.”

The strong opposition to the EU proposal to adopt, for the first time, precautionary measures, including a reduction in fishing effort for demersal stocks of at least 10%, in line with scientific advice, led the session to gradually reduce any hint of ambition and finally adopt vague guidelines without any binding effect.

On a positive note, the meeting concluded with the adoption of terms of reference for the reform of the Agreement, as well as a decision on the management of marine protected areas, which is a first step towards the protection and conservation of marine habitats in the region.

“The decision on marine habitats opens the door, for the first time, to a new line of work that will contribute to habitat conservation,” added Pilar Marín, marine habitats scientist at Oceana in Europe. “However, this step is only the beginning of the hard work that will have to be undertaken by the GFCM in designating new marine protected areas over the coming years.”

About GFCM

The GFCM is the regional body responsible for fisheries management in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Created in 1949, and entered into force in 1952, this organisation gathers 24 Contracting Parties to the Agreement. For further information:  http://www.gfcm.org/gfcm/about/en 

For more information: Flickr page of images of fishing gear in the Mediterranean

Oceana’s interactive map of fishing gear use in the Mediterranean