157 scientists have signed Oceana’s ‘Mediterranean Statement’ calling for the end of overfishing in the Mediterranean. EU policy makers are being urged to finally stop turning a blind eye to a situation which has dwindled fish populations in the enclosed sea.
Oceana, the largest international advocacy organisation focusing on ocean conservation, has had it’s ‘Mediterranean Statement’ signed ahead of the 24th September EU Parliament Fisheries Committee discussion. This should see the adoption of the first multi-annual management plan for demersal fisheries in the Mediterranean at the beginning of 2019.
What spurred on this urgent action, which was also signed by three Maltese experts, is that the Mediterranean sea is the world’s most overfished sea. This was recently reported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Overfishing is now affecting around 90% of evaluated fish stocks, with exploitation levels being more than double sustainable levels.
Oceana’s Executive Director Lasse Gustavsson said of the crisis that it is “not just a warning.” He had scathing words for the EU who “has for decades turned a blind eye to this situation,” adding that “this passive stance had brought us today to almost the point of no return.”
The multiannual management plan includes:
Restriction of bottom trawling – increasing the trawl-free zone from 50 metres to at least 100 metres will save juvenile fish and sensitive marine habitats. Coastal waters should be reserved to well-managed and low-impact fisheries only.
Protection of nursery and spawning grounds – by closing fisheries temporarily or permanently in areas deeper than 100 metres.
Setting catch limites (TACs) – and restoring and maintaining fish stocks at sustainable levels. Under the Common Fisheries Policy, Mediterranean countries are obliged to restore all stocks’ sustainability rates by 2020.