First multi-annual fisheries plan agreed for the Mediterranean

Published on
February 7, 2019

European Parliament and the European Council have reached an agreement on the European Commission’s proposal establishing a multi-annual plan for fish stocks in the western Mediterranean Sea. Once formally adopted, this will be the first multi-annual plan at European Union level in the Mediterranean Sea.

It’s hoped the agreement, which mainly covers areas concerning France, Italy, and Spain – encompassing almost 10,900 vessels – will help restore the region’s stocks to levels that can ensure social and economic viability for fishers. 

E.U. Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said the new plan was a “momentous leap forward” in delivering on the “concrete E.U. commitment” to restore vital fish stocks and prevent fisheries job losses.

“The Mediterranean Sea is highly overfished, as we know, and this first multi-annual plan gives the reassurances needed to change the situation for the better – a win-win situation for our fishermen and oceans alike setting the bar for further progress in the Mediterranean," Vella said.

According to the Commission, around 16,000 jobs depend on the robust stock preservation measures detailed in the plan. 

The proposal covers demersal fish stocks, catches of which have decreased by around 23 percent since the early 2000s. At the current rate of decline, more than 90 percent of the stocks assessed would be overfished by 2025. 

Given the worrying situation of the stocks and the date of entering into force of the plan, a five-year transitional period was included in order to progressively decrease fishing mortality towards the target maximum sustainable yield. 

The main measures of the plan include an E.U. fishing effort regime for all trawl vessels operating in the western Mediterranean, and a three-month closure area for the protection of juveniles. Recreational fisheries will also play a greater role, with the possibility of setting non-discriminatory limits in the council and technical measures through regionalization. Lastly, control measures will fully apply in order to monitor the fishing effort regime. 

This latest multi-annual plan is the fourth proposal to be adopted in line with the Common Fisheries Policy, after the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Western Waters. 

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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