Oceana demands action by Mediterranean countries to end illegal fishing

Press Release Date: May 19, 2021



Irene Campmany | email: icampmany@oceana.org | tel.: +34 682 622 245

Oceana calls on the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) to provide real protection for areas where bottom trawling is forbidden. The members of the GFCM, which include 22 countries and the European Union, are meeting this week to review their actions to tackle illegal fishing, ahead of its plenary meeting in November.

The Mediterranean is the world’s most overfished sea and not knowing who can fish what, where and when is only worsening the situation. Simple changes to enable the cross-checking of vessel and fishing information among GFCM parties and the identification of illegal activities would benefit those fishers who respect the rules. The GFCM must seize the opportunity to lead by example and enhance transparency in the fishing sector” says Helena Álvarez, Marine Scientist at Oceana in Europe.

In 2016, GFCM banned bottom trawling in three areas in the Strait of Sicily, as they had been recognised as nursery grounds for young hake – a species that has been dramatically overfished in the Mediterranean – and deep-water rose shrimp.

However, Oceana analyses indicate that, since 2018, there have been continuous cases of potential illegal bottom trawling in areas in the Strait of Sicily where this type of fishing is forbidden. To end these illegal activities and to rebuild fish stocks in the Mediterranean, Oceana asks the GFCM to urgently:

  • Amend and strengthen the GFCM Authorised Vessel List. Make it accurate and specify which vessels can legally operate where and under which conditions, especially for vessels allowed to fish in areas closed to bottom trawling. This is key to achieving sustainable fisheries management and effective enforcement.
  • Add vessels that engage in illegal fishing to the GFCM IUU vessel list and impose sanctions to countries that fail to report information on their authorised vessel list. These are crucial to ensure that GFCM recommendations are effective to achieve their objectives on biodiversity recovery.

Oceana is calling for more transparency and action against illegal fishing, backed up by satellite data from Global Fishing Watch.

# # #