New FAO initiative bolsters Mediterranean fisheries management
The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched a new long-term program intended to serve as a blueprint for making fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea more sustainable.
Called “MedSea4Fish,” the new initiative aims to equip and skill over 20 GFCM countries and spur actions at national, subregional and regional levels so that the GFCM and its partners can continue turning the corner on overexploitation in the Mediterranean Sea. Specifically, MedSea4Fish will focus on improving monitoring of fisheries and ecosystems, training, and enhancing infrastructures.
GFCM Senior Fishery Officer Miguel Bernal said that monitoring and training are not new to the GFCM, but MedSea4Fish will take these to the next level. And the new infrastructure component comes in response to countries’ needs, he said.
“Improving infrastructure can mean different things – from providing standard nets for scientific surveys, upgrading port facilities, testing or using more selective fishing gear or scaling up the use of new technologies. Decisions on infrastructure will consider the long-term and sustainable use of the equipment, goods or site being improved,” Bernal said.
According to the commission, the main groups to benefit from MedSea4Fish include fishers and fish workers, scientists and experts, and representatives of government and national fishery research institutes.
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division Director and GFCM Acting Executive Secretary Manuel Barange said MedSea4Fish is also well-aligned with the FAO’s “blue transformation” vision, which aims to expand sustainable aquaculture, improve fisheries management, and develop fish value chains to ensure the sector contributes more effectively to food security and nutrition, as well as livelihoods. MedSea4Fish will contribute to the desire to have all fishery resources under effective management, he said. It will also support GFCM countries looking to adopt recent fishery-related decisions and management plans that help to turn the tide against overfishing.
GFCM’s report, “The State of Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries 2020,” determined that 75 percent of the region’s fish stocks remain subject to overfishing, but that this percentage fell by more than 10 percent between 2014 and 2018, as exploitation ratios were down by a similar proportion.
Photo courtesy of Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock