By Jason Holland, Contributing Editor reporting from London
Published on Tuesday, June 07, 2016
The 40th annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) drew to a successful close with agreement on a raft of measures aimed at reversing the worrying trend of declining fish stocks in the region.
Decisions taken at the meeting in Malta are in line with the European Commission's (EC’s) strategy to improve the state of the Mediterranean fish stocks and the economic prospects of the fishing industry.
EU Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella expressed his deep satisfaction with the outcome, which "ushers in a new era of action to help fish stocks recover and fishing communities thrive."
He said, "This year's GFCM annual session was a truly historic meeting. After the troubling diagnosis concerning the future of Mediterranean fish stocks and the fishing economy, we now started to take corrective action. I am convinced that the steps agreed will usher in a new era of action that will help fish stocks recover and fishing communities thrive. The progress made at GFCM was a significant boost to the European Commission's #MedFish4Ever campaign.”
The agreed measures include:
• Minimum conservation reference sizes for hake in the Mediterranean
• A multiannual plan for hake and deepwater rose shrimp in the Strait of Sicily, including the establishment of a working group to develop an inspection scheme in this area
• Management measures for turbot in the Black Sea
• Further emergency measures for small pelagics (anchovy and sardines) in the Adriatic Sea
• Alignment of the GFCM's regional scheme of port state measures to the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA)
• Improvements in data submission
• Measures on the scientific research of red corals
GFCM also highlighted the importance of building a sound economic future for small-scale fisheries, which make up the bulk of the Mediterranean fishing fleet.
It endorsed the principles of a GFCM strategy for the sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries, setting out the areas of work for the years 2017-2020.
In addition, GFCM decided to set up a working group on sustainable small-scale fisheries and recreational fisheries and a scientific working group on vulnerable marine ecosystems.
In parallel to the work carried out within the GFCM, the EC will start working on a ministerial declaration on sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean to be adopted by all Mediterranean countries in March 2017, giving further impetus to sustainable fisheries and a productive sector in the region.