WWF welcomes much needed GFCM reform as a hope for the future of Mediterranean fish and fisheries

Posted on 21 May 2014    
Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) feeding in the Mediterranean Sea
© Frédéric BASSEMAYOUSSE / WWF Mediterranean

Rome, Italy: WWF commends the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) for adopting a new operational framework for the organization. This much needed reform is an important step in the major challenge of achieving the sustainability of fishing activities in the Mediterranean while preserving biodiversity and functionality of marine ecosystems.

“This is a major and historical step for the GFCM and hopefully for Mediterranean fisheries. The big efforts undertaken by the GFCM Secretariat and its Contracting Parties over the last 3 years to address its major functioning issues have paid off, the challenge was tough but it was met”, said Dr. Sergi Tudela, Head of the Fisheries Programme at WWF Mediterranean.

With an alarming conservation status of nearly 90% of the Mediterranean stocks overfished assessed by the GFCM scientific committee itself, this reform process was the last chance to address the dramatic situation of Mediterranean fish and fisheries. At the GFCM meeting currently taking place in Rome, the Contracting Parties have adopted a new Agreement. If translated into concrete action, this new Agreement has the real potential to put Mediterranean fisheries on a more sustainable path.

The new Agreement defines clear conservation objectives and means to achieve them. Among the major steps welcomed by WWF:
- fish stocks are to be restored and maintained above levels which can produce Maximum Sustainable Yield;
- management plans to be based on the ecosystem approach to fisheries and make use of the best available science as the mechanism to ensure the sustainability of every fishery;
- the GFCM is to formally adopt the figure of Fishing Restricted Areas (FRAs) for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems and essential fish habitats, along with measures to ensure a level playing field in the fulfillment of conservation objectives, compliance with GFCM rules, transparency, and open participation of all relevant stakeholders.

Fishing in the Mediterranean has a strong social and economic impact in coastal communities and has traditionally represented a fundamental source of animal protein for the entire region.

“WWF has been highly supportive of the reform process, to which we have proactively contributed; we are now committed to strengthening our responsible engagement with the GFCM in this critical and exciting moment”, added Dr. Susana Sainz-Trápaga, Fisheries Officer at WWF Mediterranean.

During the meeting WWF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the GFCM in order to strengthen their already long lasting and fruitful cooperation.

“The MoU will allow WWF to contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the newly adopted GFCM Agreement through specific lines of action. The critical state of Mediterranean fisheries requires that we all work together to secure a more viable future for this region and the millions of livelihoods dependent on it”, said Demetres Karavellas, Leader of WWF Mediterranean Initiative.

For further information:
Chantal MENARD – cmenard@wwfmedpo.org - +34 646 75 10 38

Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) feeding in the Mediterranean Sea
© Frédéric BASSEMAYOUSSE / WWF Mediterranean Enlarge
19 May 2014, Rome, Italy - (Left to right) Demetres KARAVELLAS, Leader WWF Mediterranean Initiative, Abdellah Srour, Executive Secretary, GFCM, signing the Memorandum of Understanding. Opening session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), 38th Session.
© FAO/Giulio Napolitano Enlarge

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