How the government of Catalonia is building a unique model with a decentralized, multi-actor decision-making approach to the seas

Source: Catalan International View

The fisheries industry in the Mediterranean is currently at a crossroads. Despite having implemented the Common Fisheries Policy in the region for decades, most assessed fished stocks –over 90%– are considered overexploited and most fleet segments struggle for economic viability. 

Prompted by this dismal situation, following a conference in Catania, Sicily, last year the EC initiated a process aimed at leading to a permanent recovery in fish stocks and the creation of much improved conditions for the fishing industry. The recent Ministerial Conference on Mediterranean Fisheries, held in Malta in late March 2017, resulted in an important Declaration reaffirming this political commitment at the highest level.

Catalonia, with a fishing fleet of roughly 800 boats, still harbours a robust fisheries sector, which is vital to the economic fabric of coastal communities and is needed to form the backbone of its future national maritime strategy. The Catalan government, with a view to rising to the challenges presented by this important moment in time, has been working for over a year on a highly innovative and unique fisheries management approach tailored to the country’s fishing characteristics.

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The Mediterranean Basin: together for nature


After five years of conservation in the Mediterranean, CEPF’s latest publication “Together”shows how the region’s diverse cultures are committed to protecting its nature. Discover incredible species, motivating stories, complex threats, conservation successes and innovative ideas, as we share local solutions for nature conservation.

Imagine bee-eaters, cave salamanders, geckos, macaques, dragonflies, and pelicans for a flavour of the faunal diversity the Mediterranean Basin harbours – many found only in the region. Covering more than two million square kilometres, this biodiversity hotspot is also ranked as the third-richest in the world in terms of its plant diversity. Yet rapid economic development, an increasing human population, and 32% of the world’s international tourists are creating unprecedented pressures on its freshwater, marine and terrestrial habitats – compounded by lack of effective planning and management systems.

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Marine litter Round Table at Blue Eco Forum, Barcelona

diapositiva1Where are we as to knowledge and instruments to achieve Good Environmental Status regarding Marine litter in the Mediterranean Sea?

Organized by EUCC Mediterranean Centre

Date: Friday 25th November, 14h – 16h
Venue: Maritime Museum, Barcelona
Language: Spanish and English (simultaneous translation)

workshop is an opportunity to wrap up the gains on scientific knowledge and on policy instruments to address marine litter in the Mediterranean since the entry into force of the policies and instruments. The final objective is to assess where the key gaps are which need to be urgently addressed by science and policy to reach GES. This workshop takes place within the Blue Eco Forum.

Litter found in the sea can range from large fishing nets to microscopic-sized litter, often resulting from gradual fragmentation of bigger items. Marine litter is a consequence of our current paradigm of linear use of resources and our inability to fully deal with the volume of waste this produces. It presents a challenge to society and to our economic and political systems to mitigate marine litter damage to our oceans and welfare much more effectively and without delay.

At a global level, UNEP and partners acknowledged the challenge launching on 2012, at the Rio+20 conference, a global initiative on marine litter. In this framework the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) Contracting Parties adopted in 2014 an Action Plan for Marine Litter abatement which is a legally binding instrument. The UNEP MAP Ecosystem Approach process is feeding of knowledge and data this process.

The European Commission is playing an active role through marine litter research and policies directed towards solution. There clearly is an increasing awareness about marine litter, which led to the inclusion of marine litter as a separate descriptor within the 2008 Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). According to the MSFD, Good Environmental Status (GES) for marine litter should be reached in 2020, meaning that ‘the properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment’. For doing so, EU member states embarked on an initial assessment of the state of the marine environment regarding marine litter, put in place monitoring programmes and are adopting programmes of measures for its abatement.

Scientific knowledge is underpinning the process and efforts have been placed on gaining data on quantities, types, distribution, sources, physical and chemical impacts, and so forth in order to be able to set baselines, targets and indicators to quantify progress to litter free seas and oceans and to define effective measures.


Round table with experts interventions followed by a debate with the public.


Introduced and moderated by Carolina Pérez, EUCC Mediterranean Centre

Carolina counts with a long-standing experience with coastal and marine policy studies and projects in Europe and has collaborated with a wide range of stakeholders at national and regional level in the field of monitoring, preventing and management of marine litter. Her experience record includes among others leading the communication component of the EU FP7 project CleanSea and acting as regional partner on an EU  support project on MSFD implementation in the Mediterranean related to monitoring programs and programs of measures with especial focus on marine litter.

Do we have sufficient knowledge? Where are the most urgent gaps?

Maria Ferreira.jpegMaria Ferreira, Coastal & Marine Union-EUCC; member of the Secretariat of the EU MSFD Technical Group Marine Litter)

  • Latest progresses on the work of the Technical Group ML
  • Methodologie to assess “harm” and identify marine litter sources

foto-sarda-263x295Rafael Sardà, Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Blanes (CEAB), CSIC

  • Current knowledge on marine litter amounts, composition, distribution and hotspots in the Mediterranean
  • Urgent knowledge gaps to address


CleanSea Amsterdam low resolution-25

Pedro Fernández, EUCC Mediterranean Centre

  • Key findings and recommendations from the interdisciplinar research in PF7 project CleanSea

Are existing policy and instruments adequate? What are we still lacking?

magali-outters-1Magali Outters, Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC), UNEP MAP

  • Status of implementation of the Regional Plan
  • Preventive measures pursued by  SCP RAC and main challenges


Marta Martínez-Gil, División para la Protección del Mar, MAPAMA

  • Status of Spanish implementation of EU and UNEP MAP obligations.
  • Measuring the effectiveness and next steps


ann-dom-pic2Ann Dom, Seas at Risk


  • Civil society organisations lobbying for policy instruments at the EU level
  • Major achievements and barriers, next targets


mvtMaria Vidal i Tarrasón, Catalan Waste Agency

  • Role of regional governments implementing these policies
  • Catalan experience and the upcoming initiatives to this end


enrique-agbarEnrique Gutíerrez, Aigües de Barcelona

  • Local action to control marine litter input
  • Sewage system management in Barcelona and metropolitan area

Morocco’s Blue Belt Initiative to boost Coastal Resilience to Climate Change launched at COP 22

By Magdalena A K Muir, Advisory Board Member, Climate and Global Change, EUCC
On the occasion of this COP, Morocco will confirm its support for the initiatives relating to the oceans which have been already launched and will launch a new initiative called ‘the Blue Belt’, aimed at increasing the resilience of coastal populations as well as promoting sustainable fishing activities, HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa, Ambassador of the Coast, said in a speech during the opening ceremony, which was attended by several personalities sar-la-princesse-lalla-hasnaa-ouverture-journc3a9e-de28099action-des-occ3a9ans_g-ecologyincluding HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.

“On the occasion of the COP22, the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection will join the Blue Belt,” HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa announced. “Building on its experience in the sustainable development of three Moroccan wetlands located on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coasts, the Foundation will take part in the creation of marine protected areas,” HRH the Princess added.
The day dedicated to the oceans at the COP22 “marks a historic turning point” as the oceans are part of the Global Climate Action Agenda, which reinforces Goal 14 of Sustainable Development, HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa pointed out.
Morocco has always been sensitive to the importance of the oceans on various levels, HRH the Princess said, noting that HM King Mohammed VI has made environmental protection one of the pillars of public policies, development strategies and the regional and international commitments of the Kingdom.
HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa highlighted the role played by the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection in raising awareness of the importance of preserving the oceans, adding that the foundation outlined since its inception 15 years ago five priorities, including the protection of coastal areas.
HRH Princess Lalla Hasnaa cited in this context actions implemented by the foundation in this area, including educational programs for children and the youth, the organization of a coast week and the Lalla Hasnaa Sustainable Coast Awards, which aim at promoting original and innovative projects for the coast.
The opening ceremony of the Oceans Action Day was attended by minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Aziz Akhannouch, French Minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea, President of the COP 21, Ségolène Royal, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, and FAO Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources Maria Helena Semedo.

Further information:
The ‘Blue Belt’, Morocco’s Initiative to Boost Coastal Resilience to Climate Change

The ‘Blue Belt’, Morocco’s Initiative to Boost Coastal Resilience to Climate Change


Africa News- Road to COP22: Blue Belt initiative of Agadir, including video

Increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and ocean acidification amplify extremes of climate change. Finding a solution to minimise the impact on coastal areas has become a priority. As part of our series “Road to Cop 22” we’re in Moroccan city of Agadir to find out more about the Blue Belt initiative.” The Blue Belt initiative stemmed from the Blue Growth concept, launched by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2013. It aims to encourage sustainable fishing, from seas and lakes to consumers’ plates, to allow marine resources to renew themselves. Better fishing practices lead to less food waste.

SAR la Princesse Lalla Hasnaa préside à Marrakech la cérémonie d’ouverture de la journée d’action des océans

Son Altesse Royale la Princesse Lalla Hasnaa, présidente de la Fondation Mohammed VI pour la protection de l’environnement, a présidé, samedi 12 novembre 2016 à Marrakech, la cérémonie d’ouverture de la journée d’action des océans, organisée dans le cadre de la 22ème Conférence des parties à la convention-cadre des Nations unies sur les changements climatiques.


“Le Maroc, à l’occasion de la présente COP, confirmera son soutien aux initiatives en lien avec les océans déjà lancées et initiera une nouvelle initiative “la ceinture bleue”, visant à développer la résilience des communautés côtières ainsi que des activités de pêche durables”, a indiqué Son Altesse Royale, ambassadeur de la côte, qui prononçait une allocution lors de cette cérémonie marquée par la participation de plusieurs personnalités, notamment de SAS le Prince Albert II de Monaco.

“A l’occasion de la COP22, la Fondation Mohammed VI pour la protection de l’environnement rejoindra ‘la ceinture bleue’”, a annoncé SAR la Princesse Lalla Hasnaa.

“Mettant à profit son expérience dans le développement durable de trois zones humides marocaines situées sur les façades méditerranéennes ou atlantiques, elle (la FM6) participera à la création d’aires marines protégées”, a fait savoir Son Altesse Royale.

La journée thématique consacrée aux océans dans le cadre de la COP22 “marque un tournant historique” puisqu’elle est l’inscription officielle des océans dans l’agenda global pour l’action climatique, confortant le 14ème objectif de développement durable, a souligné SAR la Princesse Lalla Hasnaa.

Le Maroc a toujours été sensible à l’importance des océans sur divers plans, a rappelé SAR la Princesse Lalla Hasnaa, relevant que SM le Roi Mohammed VI a fait de la protection de l’environnement l’un des piliers des politiques publiques, des stratégies de développement et des engagements régionaux ou internationaux du Royaume.

Son Altesse Royale a mis en exergue le rôle de la Fondation Mohammed VI pour la protection de l’environnement dans la sensibilisation à l’importance de préserver les océans, qui, dès sa création il y a 15 ans, a inscrit la protection du littoral comme l’une de ses cinq priorités, à travers ses programmes d’éducation ciblant les enfants et les jeunes, l’organisation de la semaine du littoral, dédiée à la vulgarisation scientifique, et le décernement des trophées « Lalla Hasnaa Littoral durable” qui couronnent les initiatives exemplaires et les travaux de recherche novateurs dans le domaine de la protection de l’environnement.

La cérémonie d’ouverture de la journée d’action sur les océans a été marquée par la participation du ministre de l’Agriculture et de la pêche maritime, Aziz Akhannouch, de la ministre française de l’Environnement, de l’énergie et de la mer, présidente de la COP21, Ségolène Royal, du commissaire européen à l’Environnement, Karmenu Vella et de la directrice générale adjointe de la FAO, Maria Helena Somedo.

Morocco Launching Adaptation of African Agriculture at COP 22 For Small Farmers Affected by Climate Change and Drought

white-book-enLike most African countries, Morocco – where 40% of the population still works the land – is already feeling the impacts of climate change on its agricultural production. Last year, during the exceptional season Ibrahimi describes – caused in large part by the regular El Niño weather pattern – Morocco went without rain for more than two months. Overall it received 42.7% less rain during its main planting season than in an average year. The impact on the harvest was catastrophic, particularly on the “zone bour” (dry zone) areas where crops such as wheat, barley and maize are planted. Ministry of Agriculture estimates predicted total output falling 70% on the 2015 season.
“Starting from the early 1990s, we’ve seen on average 15% to 20% less rain annually than previously,” says Mohamed Ait Kadi, president of Morocco’s General Council of Agricultural Development. “The rain now comes in showers instead of sustained downpours, and we see arid areas spreading.” As the host country for the COP22 climate change talks, which open in Marrakechon Monday, Morocco is determined to make this meeting the “African COP”.
Explaining its own experience and acting as an advocate for other African countries, Morocco wants to put the impacts of erratic weather patterns on agriculture at the heart of the discussions. No-one is underestimating the challenges. Water stress, land degradation, rising temperatures and deforestation are all playing a role. Areas such as the Sahel – including Chad, Niger and Mali – have experienced recurring droughts every few years since the 1980s, devastating harvests, economies and traditional farming ecosystems. In 2010 at least 7 million people across the Sahel were threatened with severe hunger and needed emergency food aid from humanitarian organisations.
According to the journal Nature, the viability of all crops in the Sahel belt will become questionable, with maize being the worst affected. By 2090 some 60% of land available for bean production will become unsuitable. Southern and eastern Africa have all suffered catastrophic droughts over the last few years.
Morocco is using the COP22 conference to formally launch its “Adaptation of African Agriculture” (AAA) initiative. As food security becomes increasingly challenged by erratic weather patterns, the initiative proposes measures such as improved soil management, water and irrigation management and better weather forecasting and insurance programmes for farmers affected by drought.
Although the initiative has received some criticism as some of its focus appears to replicate the work already being done by other pan-African agriculture programmes, Morocco believes its main contribution can be to persuade world leaders to sign up to a concrete plan of how to divide up the $100bn (£81bn) promised to support adaptation and mitigation projects in developing countries.
“We have to translate the big ideas written in western offices about responses to climate change into something that actually changes the lives of small farmers,” said Morocco’s minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Aziz Akannouch, at a recent conference launching the AAA. It’s about pragmatic responses – things like irrigation projects, developing oases, improving access to fertilisers and credit.
Further information:
Website of  Adaptation of African Agriculture”