Mediterranean fisheries management meeting concludes without adopting any management measures

Most fish stocks are overexploited, including valuable commercial species.

Press Release Date: May 16, 2011

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

Inaction of decision makers and open access fisheries, called to question by Oceana.

The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) closed its 35th Session in Rome on Saturday. According to recent scientific advice, 22 of 23 Mediterranean stocks are overexploited, including highly valuable commercial species like red shrimp (Aristeus antennatus), hake (Merluccius merluccius) and mullet (Mullus surmuletus), and drastic reductions in fishing effort are required, as well as additional measures for endangered sharks. Yet, despite such clear warnings from scientists, GFCM has closed its doors once again, without adopting any management measures to address the decline of Mediterranean fisheries.

Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe, has criticised the outcome of the meeting, stating: Mediterranean fisheries are vanishing, yet Mediterranean decision makers remain passive, avoiding implementing even basic management for overexploited stocks.” Referring to the role of the EU, Pastor added: The EU is not excluded of this context. Mediterranean fisheries exploited by EU fleets are facing the same situation of overexploitation and lack of appropriated management. Taking into account the ongoing process of the CFP reform, EU has an overwhelming responsibility in ensuring that immediate change occurs in the Region”.

Oceana does, however, highlight that some positive steps were taken at the meeting, including measures for endangered species threatened by fishing activities, such as seabirds, monk seals and sea turtles as well as red coral, although the marine conservation organisation believes strong action should have been taken to immediately address the overall situation of Mediterranean fish stocks.

Facts on Mediterranean exploited fish stocks and marine species:

Among the 102 commercial species captured in the Mediterranean Sea, sufficient information to permit assessments only exists for 16 species, and not for all stocks. Among them, 60% were assessed as being outside safe biological limits [1].

– 23 GFCM stock assessments of demersal species found that 22 are overexploited ,[2] including hake, red shrimp and mullet.

– The IUCN has recently warned that more than 40 species of marine fish currently found in the Mediterranean could disappear within the next few years. According to a study recently published, at least 12 species of bony fish, including highly commercially valuable European hake, are threatened with extinction due to overfishing, among other causes [3].

– The Mediterranean is considered to be the area of greatest risk to chondrichthyans, with 30 species (42% of those assessed) classified as threatened by the IUCN

About GFCM

The General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean is a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) dealing with the management of all Mediterranean fisheries for species other than tuna. It entered into force in 1952, first as a Council and later as a Commission, and includes 23 Member Countries, along with the European Union.

For further information

[1] Communication from the Commission. Consultation on fishing opportunities for 2011. COM (2010) 241.

[2] GFCM. Report of the thirteenth session of theSCIENTIFIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Marseille, France, 7-11 February 2011.

[3] IUCN press release