Over 150 international scientists call for an end to severe overfishing crisis in the Mediterranean Sea

World-renowned experts urge EU decision makers to adopt a science-based management plan in the western Mediterranean to tackle impacts of bottom trawling

Press Release Date: September 21, 2018

Location: Madrid


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

More than 150 international scientists today signed Oceana’s “Mediterranean Statement” urging the EU and its Member States to end the environmental crisis in the Mediterranean – the world’s most overfished sea, according to a recent report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“This environmental crisis is not just a warning – it’s the harsh reality of the Mediterranean Sea. Europe has for decades turned a blind eye to this situation, and this passive stance has brought us today to almost the point of no return, said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe.

“The EU must curb overfishing to avoid the worst-case scenario – the collapse of fish stocks – by adopting a science-based management plan in the western Mediterranean,” added Gustavsson.

Overfishing in the Mediterranean affects around 90% of evaluated fish stocks, with average exploitation rates exceeding more than double the recommended sustainable levels[1]. According to the scientists who back this Statement, an effective multiannual plan in the western Mediterranean should:

  • Restrict bottom trawling, the most destructive fishing technique, by increasing the trawl-free zone throughout the entire year from a depth of 50 to at least 100 metres, where juvenile fish aggregations and sensitive marine habitats can be found. Coastal waters should also be reserved to well-managed and low-impact fisheries only;
  • Protect nursery and spawning grounds in areas deeper than 100m by closing fisheries temporarily or permanently;
  • Set catch limits and fishing efforts in line with scientific advice to restore and maintain fish stocks at sustainable levels. Mediterranean countries are obliged under the Common Fisheries Policy to restore all its stocks to sustainable rates no later than 2020.

This call for action from scientists is released prior to the EU Parliament negotiations that will take place on 24 September in the Fisheries Committee and that should result in the adoption of the first multiannual management plan for demersal fisheries in the Mediterranean at the beginning of 2019.

The Mediterranean Statement (including signatories)

Learn more: Western Mediterranean: Overfishing crisis: act now, or lose it forever

Read more: Mediterranean Sea at Risk


#TheMedStatement #StopOverfishing #CFPreality #MedFish4Ever


[1] Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) – Monitoring the performance of the Common Fisheries Policy (STECF-Adhoc-18-01). Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018, ISBN 978-92-79-85802-4, doi:10.2760/329345, JRC111761