EU fisheries chief outlines first multi-annual management plan for the Mediterranean

Published on
March 8, 2017

European Union Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Karmenu Vella, has presented a multi-annual plan for small pelagic fish stocks in the Adriatic Sea.

The proposal, which covers four different small pelagic stocks but is focused on anchovy and sardine – the most commercially valuable fishery – is the third multi-annual plan that the European Commission (EC) is putting forward since the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). It is also the first ever in the Mediterranean and if fully implemented has the potential to increase stocks by 20 percent.

This will bring tangible improvements in the working conditions for fishermen, with an expected increase in salary of approximately five percent and profits of around 10 percent.

According to the EC, the plan marks a milestone in its approach to fisheries management, and shows that long-term viability of fisheries can still be made possible in a sea basin in which 93 percent of the fish stocks are assessed as over-exploited.

Without this plan, anchovy and sardine stocks would most likely collapse between 2020 and 2030, said Vella.

“Such a collapse would also have a negative effect on predator species, such as bluefin tuna, one of the most valuable fish species worldwide,” he said.

A Ministerial Conference will be held in Malta on 29 and 30 March. Together with the Fisheries Ministers of all Mediterranean countries, the EC will adopt a ministerial declaration on the sustainability of Mediterranean fisheries.  

“I am aware that many Mediterranean fish stocks are shared with third-countries and that it is of paramount importance to ensure a level playing field for our fishermen. But at the same time, we cannot afford to stay idle for stocks where catches are almost exclusively from EU vessels, such as in the Adriatic,” said Vella.

Though some management and emergency measures have been adopted, the current framework remains too fragmented, is constantly changing and remains too complex, he said.

“Rules are anything but clear and unequivocal, making them difficult for the fishing industry to apply.

“We want to consolidate all these partial management efforts into a coherent, single piece of legislation which can be adapted to changing circumstances through a regionalized approach. 

“The commission's proposal for a multi-annual plan for small pelagic fisheries in the Adriatic Sea will help us achieve the objectives of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy including the targets and timeframes to make our fisheries even more sustainable. The plan will also help us implement further the landing obligation, to contribute to a healthy marine environment and to economically viable fishing communities,” Vella said.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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