WWF applauds first management plan for Mediterranean fisheries
“WWF congratulates the GFCM for adopting, for the first time ever, a management plan for a Mediterranean fishery, after repeated calls from scientists on the need to conserve Mediterranean stocks. The Mediterranean is one of the most overexploited seas globally, with 100% of demersal fish stocks assessed as overfished. It was high time for such a decision to be adopted”, said Dr. Sergi Tudela, Head of the Fisheries Programme at WWF Mediterranean.
The management plan, tabled by the EU, was adopted for the small pelagic fishery in the Adriatic Sea. The most important target species of this fishery are anchovy and sardine, which represent 99% of the total catch of small pelagics in the Adriatic (small pelagics represent approximately 46% of the total marine fish caught in the Adriatic Sea). The management plan includes so-called “harvest control rules”, a procedure whereby fishing effort is automatically adjusted according to the status of the fish stocks.
“The management plan for the pelagic fishery in the Adriatic has to be seen as a first step. We need now to develop a new management framework for the entire region”, added Tudela
Despite this good news for the Adriatic, however, WWF expresses its disappointment in the lack of support by most GFCM Contracting Parties for a general reduction in fishing effort in bottom trawling and net fisheries. The status of Mediterranean demersal stocks targeted by these fisheries is catastrophic. Just as an example, according to the scientific committee of the GFCM this year the fishing mortality of hake in the region is 4 to 11 times greater than levels considered to be sustainable..
In addition, no measures were adopted for sardine in the Gulf of Lions, in spite of scientists assessing the stock as collapsed.
“In spite of the mixed outcome of the meeting, WWF hopes the good news of the first substantial management plan adopted by GFCM after 64 years of existence means the start of a new era in the management of fish stocks in the Mediterranean”, concluded Tudela.
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Note to editors: the GFCM - General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - is the international body in charge of fisheries management in the region. The GFCM meets annually to adopt management recommendations that are binding for its 23 members along with the European Union, and is one of the oldest Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO) in the world, having been established in 1949.