WWF calls for urgent European action to save Mediterranean fisheries | WWF

WWF calls for urgent European action to save Mediterranean fisheries

Posted on 10 February 2016
Sandeel fisheries Arenys del Mar Spain
© Claudia Amico / WWF
Catania, 9 February 2016 – As the “High-level seminar on the state of stocks in the Mediterranean and on the Common Fisheries Policy approach” is taking place in Catania, Italy, WWF calls on the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, to act with more than short-term measures. It is our last chance to establish a real and efficient long-term recovery for Mediterranean fish stocks. With the over-exploitation rate at an alarming 93%1 for the region’s evaluated fish stocks, the risk of losing crucial biodiversity and its related economies is serious. WWF also reiterates that effective solutions exist and they involve actors all along the fisheries production chain – from the sea to the plate.

“We are grateful for the organisation of this exceptional meeting; it clearly reflects that the European Commission is as concerned as we are with the disastrous state of Mediterranean fisheries, said Marco Costantini, Fisheries Project Manager at WWF. But it is crucial that we move quickly to long-term actions and don’t look for short-term solutions which would only be a sticking-plaster approach. The Mediterranean needs a genuine cure, and it is now or never if we don’t want to lose our fish and our fisheries. WWF calls on all EU Mediterranean Member States to commit to urgent actions to save Mare Nostrum and to work constructively with their neighbouring countries”, added Costantini.

The Mediterranean is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots. However, for a much less fortunate reason the Mediterranean is also known for the critical state of its fish stocks. Eight years after the entry into force of the Mediterranean Regulation2 that was to address the specific problems of fisheries management in the region, the situation has far from improved.

The state of fish stocks and fisheries in the Mediterranean is a pressing issue that cannot be dragged on any longer. WWF is not supportive to setting up only short-term measures. “Emergency measures that are not included in a long term plan would not do much apart from decreasing the fishing effort for a limited period. The Mediterranean has the same legal requirements as all other EU fisheries, therefore we are entitled to at least the same Common Fisheries Policy implementation and enforcement standards as the Atlantic” explained Marco Costantini.

Solutions for long-term, well managed fisheries exist and work. For many years WWF has developed innovative governance models such as co-management. Community-based co-management – where responsibility is shared between the government and fishermen – is an approach used increasingly as an effective means of improving fisheries governance, and delivering on sustainability.

WWF also believes that engaging the governments of Mediterranean fishing nations (EU and non-EU) as well as regional organisations such as GFCM and ICCAT is also a key factor.

“Not only is the majority of employment in EU fisheries in the Mediterranean, we also have a large seafood market, we eat a lot of fish. Mediterranean authorities, consumers and companies have a big role to play in helping Mediterranean fish and fisheries to survive. We have solutions that work and we now need to expand this work to a bigger scale, encompassing everything from the boat to the plate” concluded Marco Costantini. “Otherwise we might lose a unique heritage sooner than we think, both under and above the water.”

1Status of Mediterranean and Black Sea fish and shellfish stocks in European waters in 2015, Max Cardinale and Giacomo Chato Osio.
2COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1967/2006 of 21 December 2006 concerning management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea, amending Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93 and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1626/94.

For information / interviews:
Chantal MENARD +34 646 75 10 38 / cmenard@wwfmedpo.org  
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Sandeel fisheries Arenys del Mar Spain
© Claudia Amico / WWF Enlarge