Aquaculture for all

EC Confirms 91% of Mediterranean Fish Stocks are Overfished

Sustainability Politics

EUROPE - Oceana has proposed a set of measures to tackle the alarming amount of overfishing occuring in the Mediterranean Sea, which affects 88 out of 97 of assessed fish stocks. The percentage of overfished stocks in this sea has been increasing over the years, cementing this regions position as the worst hit in Europe.

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Oceana proposes concrete measures to reverse this dramatic trend in the Mare Nostrum, which is the hardest hit sea in Europe

The international marine conservation organisation is therefore calling for strong measures, based on scientific advice, to reverse this trend.

“The more stocks are assessed in the Mediterranean, the more it becomes clear how incredibly high overfishing rates are in the region. It is past time to take concrete action to phase out this tremendous problem. Managers can no longer turn their backs to this situation, and must coordinate with the scientists to base management plans on sound knowledge,” stated Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe.

Oceana urges the incorporation of the following measures into management plans for the region:

  1. Identification and protection through spatial and temporal closure areas of spawning and nursery grounds of commercial species, in particular those hosting juvenile fish aggregations (Essential Fish Habitats): This will allow stocks to recover from overfishing.
  2. Adoption of multiannual plans to achieve the sustainable management of stocks: This will guarantee more fish at sea and more profitable fisheries.
  3. Improvement of scientific evidence on the state of Mediterranean stocks: This will support more informed management.
  4. Adoption of the precautionary approach when data is not available: This will allow a reduction of fishing pressure, and the preservation of stocks until proper data becomes available.

According to the Commission communication, 91 per cent of Mediterranean stocks are overfished. The situation is very alarming: 96 per cent of demersal stocks (72 out of 75) including European hake, red mullet and deep-water rose shrimp, and 59 per cent (16 out of 28) of pelagic ones, including anchovies and sardines, are overfished. Furthermore, there are still several stocks for which a status assessment has never been conducted. This means that the overall situation might yet be worse than the one described by the Commission.

“Overfishing is not the only one problem in the Mediterranean. Illegal fishing activities and overcapacity, among others, are shortcomings that must be addressed with the appropriate enforcement of existing legislation. Moreover, fishing policy should be compatible with the implementation of measures responding to conservation-related EU legislation such as the designation and management of Natura 2000 sites at-sea,” added Mr Pastor.

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