Report | September 20, 2018

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

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the world’s most important seas. However, it is currently the world’s most overfished sea, with more than 90% of stocks fished above what is considered sustainable (i.e. above Maximum Sustainable Yield, or MSY).

In the Western Mediterranean alone, overfishing affects 80% of demersal fish stocks, which live and feed at, or near, the bottom of the sea. Severe overexploitation rates pose high biological risks of stock collapse, which directly affect fishermen, businesses and the livelihoods
of coastal communities that depend on the natural yet limited marine resources there.

Today, the most commercially-important species in the Mediterranean, including European hake, red mullet, or anglerfish, are exploited 10 times more than what science recommends. Overfishing, together with the extensive use of bottom trawling fishing, known as the main threat to theecosystems and artisanal fisheries in the Mediterranean, are the main culprits behind the critical state of Mare Nostrum.

In addition to it, politicians have repeatedly ignored scientific advice, failed to implement existing measures, and failed to set adequate control measures for those that were implemented. The EU takes a great responsability for the current dire situation of the Mediterranean Sea as the key fishing player in terms of volume of catches, the size and the capacity of its fishing fleet.

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