Damanaki urged to prioritize Mediterranean

The World Wildlife Fund is calling on European Union Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki to make the sustainability of Mediterranean fisheries a priority as the EU reforms its Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which is due in 2012. Damanaki visited WWF’s Rome headquarters on Thursday.

Mismanagement, lack of enforcement and overfishing have lefts Mediterranean fish stocks at all-time lows, according to the WWF. The organization pointed to a 2010 assessment by the EU’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries that found 32 out of the 36 Mediterranean fish stocks analyzed were overexploited.

“If there’s to be any chance of breathing life back into Europe’s fisheries, a radically new fisheries management approach tailored to the Mediterranean must be central,” said Dr. Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries at WWF Mediterranean. “For too long the EU has failed Mediterranean fishermen and Mediterranean fish alike. The time is now to rebalance the equation before it’s too late.”

Added Tudela: “Avoiding double standards in accountability will make the difference: all EU fisheries must be subject to common standards and formal delivery processes — in both Mediterranean and Atlantic waters — while respecting regional differences. A new ambitious Mediterranean management framework must deliver into the same conservation standards as the long-established operational scheme applied to Atlantic fisheries, and WWF trusts Commissioner Damanaki is leading toward that outcome.”

In turn, Damanaki commended the WWF Mediterranean office for its “important voice.”

“What is our major problem? There is a lack of implementing rules and compliance on the ground,” said Damanaki in a statement. “So, control of the rules will be key and better enforcement tools are under way. But what we really need is a culture of all of us together that taking care of the Mediterranean is a common responsibility. I am working on a substantial reform of our policies to ensure a sustainable future for fisheries, based on scientific advise and to ensure a simpler and more regionalized policy. But we need support and public awareness for change to happen.”


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