The EU Commission unveiled today its new campaign #MedFish4ever, with the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, urging the fishing sector to address the unprecedented crisis in the Mediterranean. WWF welcomes this initiative to join forces for the future of fish stocks and fishermen in the region.
“The Mediterranean Sea has reached crisis point, with 93 per cent of assessed fish stocks over-exploited and trends still declining, so this EU initiative comes at a critical time. Only if all stakeholders act together can we build a new future for fish stocks, transform Mediterranean fisheries, help fishermen craft their future, and achieve improved and sustainable seafood markets,” said Marco Lambertini, WWF International’s Director General.
“This focus on the Mediterranean is an encouraging sign that the implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is taken seriously. Now we need Member States in the region to step up their efforts not only to achieve full implementation and also better enforcement,” added Geneviève Pons, Director of the WWF European Policy Office.
What’s at risk is that we are losing a natural capital that is the basis of a key economic sector in the region with a total trade value of $ 27 billion, providing employment to over 250,000 fishermen1, as well as thousands of indirect jobs provided by fish markets, production, distribution and sales.
WWF strongly believes that the participation of all stakeholders in recovering stocks is key. WWF pioneered the co-management model, in which fishers, scientists, civil societies and governments have a voice and a role to play in establishing the processes and rules for fisheries management in a given area. This model has demonstrated its social, ecological and economic value, and should serve as a blueprint for tackling the current crisis in an effective and inclusive way.
Three priorities must be addressed in the year to come, according to WWF. First, there is an urgent need to reduce fishing mortality. This can happen by implementing adequate measures such as number of days at sea, number of vessels at sea per day, spatial and temporal closures (particularly in nurseries) and catch limits. Second, we need to ensure all fish are allowed to reproduce at least once.
Third, WWF is very concerned about the management of the Mediterranean swordfish fishery, which stocks are declining rapidly. There is an urgent need for an ambitious recovery plan to avoid the collapse of the stock. WWF calls on the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the European Commission to fast-track the development of a new management plan towards the recovery of the stocks.
The crisis of Mediterranean fish stocks requires an urgent and collective solution, locally, nationally and internationally. WWF is committed to actively work with all stakeholders to build a vision that reconciles economic with environmental concerns for our oceans. There is a strong need for coordination at all levels, and in particular between the European Commission and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) to speak and act with one voice.
Chantal MENARD – Communications – WWF Mediterranean – firstname.lastname@example.org – Mobile: +34 646 75 10 38
Angelika PULLEN – Communications Director – WWF European Policy Office email@example.com – Mobile: +32 473 947 966
Notes to the editor
About co-management of fisheries
WWF pioneered the co-management model, in which fishers, scientists, civil societies and governments have a voice and a role to play in establishing the processes and rules for fisheries management in a given area. WWF is currently engaging co-management processes in Croatia, Algeria, Greece, among others, on mono and multi targeted fisheries, whether they are artisanal or industrial.
Example: In Catalonia, Spain, the model has demonstrated its social, ecological and economic value. The establishment of a co-managed sandeel fishery in 2012 led to the end of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU catches), a full monitoring of the resource and a real time adaptive management. Sandeel fishermen have tripled their income.
About pressures on the Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is at risk of “burn out”, crumbling under the weight of a population of 150 million people; 350 million tourist arrivals a year; aquaculture production which is projected to grow by 112% by 2050; and maritime transport reaching 25% of global traffic.
For more information, see WWF’s MedTrends report