Source: DG MARE
Fish stocks in the Mediterranean are in an alarming state – some are even on the verge of depletion. Over 90% of the fish stocks assessed are over-exploited, and despite recent efforts the situation is not improving. Managing fish stocks is complicated by the fact that many of them are shared with non-EU countries. How can we halt this decline and ensure a future for our fish and for the fishermen who rely on them to make a living?
Answering this question is a key priority for the Commission. At a high-level seminar in Catania, Sicily, on 9 February, Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, made an urgent appeal to policy makers and stakeholders to come together and tackle these pressing issues, together.
The EU is ready to lead the way by example, to ensure better governance for sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea. But it is clear that ensuring sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean will require substantial efforts and the backing of all stakeholders, from both EU and non-EU countries.
That is why Catania is just the starting point for the development of a new strategy for the Mediterranean. Once EU Member States have agreed on strong alignment and committed themselves to cooperate within the EU, the intention is to bring neighbouring countries on board within the Mediterranean fisheries management organisation GFCM.
Accordingly, the critical condition of many Mediterranean fish stocks was a key topic during Commissioner Vella’s visit to the headquarters of GFCM on 18 February. Commissioner Vella used the opportunity to invite the GFCM to attend a meeting of all Mediterranean fisheries ministers in Brussels in April, and to discuss with them what specific measures could be taken to save Mediterranean stocks.