First, let me take this opportunity to thank the Kingdom of Morocco and my colleague, Minister Akhannouch, for hosting this important conference, and the GFCM for organising this event.

Today we have been taking stock of the implementation of the Malta Ministerial Declaration on sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean, the so-called “MedFish4Ever” Declaration which has been signed by 16 riparian states in 2017.

This Declaration has brought a new dynamic on how we manage our fisheries and take care of shared marine biological resources, and ultimately, how we can ensure that our fishers earn a decent living from fisheries and coastal communities who depend on the sea can thrive. 

With that declaration we have clear goals and actions for the years to come.

I am proud to say that “MedFish4Ever” has already changed the way we manage our fisheries. What we achieved so far is impressive.

In terms of :

  • Establishing ambitious fisheries management measures.
  • Protection of biodiversity Preservation of endangered species
  • Scientific research and fish stocks evaluation
  • Surveillance and control of fishing activities, notably through the development of traceability means for vessels, gears and catches,
  • Fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).
  • Also in terms of administrative and operational cooperation between contracting parties along the deployment of joint International surveillance and inspection schemes.

The assessment of what we achieved so far is very positive. Nevertheless, it is not sufficient!

That is why during this conference, we have not only talked about what has been achieved; we, including the EU, have also  reaffirmed our political will to act – to turn ink into action – and to deliver tangible results as well as to address future challenges. 

Let me name a few of those challenges.

  • Still we catch too much fish: 78% of stocks are still overexploited.
  • We have to continue working on the impacts of climate change and pollution.
  • While preserving the unique biodiversity of the Mediterranean sea, we also face the challenge of managing the arrival of non-indigenous species.
  • The establishment of new fishing restricted areas, which are instrumental for protecting Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and Essential Fish habitats.
  • Evaluating and mitigating the impact of recreational fisheries that represents an estimation of 10% of the total production of fisheries in Mediterranean.
  • Reinforcing our scientific approaches that constitute the basis of our policies.

And I want to emphasise an urgent issue. The eradication of IUU fishing. This remains a real scourge in the Mediterranean Sea. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to confirm our commitments to the the goals of the international Day on IUU, which took place last week (5June). We presented awards to the champions in the fight against IUU. These are success stories from the kind of dedicated people we need.

With this conference, we have initiated the development of the social aspect of small-scale fisheries with special focus on decent work, working conditions, social protection, the role of women and the need to attract young people. We have to continue to work and build on these social pillars. We must aim to guarantee the livelihood of coastal communities and ensuring food security

All the stakeholders must be committed to continue delivering legal, financial, assets and operational frameworks for the success of our common roadmap “MedFish4Ever”, in coordination with the GFCM whose role is priceless.

We have no choice other than ensuring the full implementation of “MedFish4Ever” to safeguard long-term environmental, economic and social sustainability of our fisheries. It is our living political testament to making life better for coastal communities and fishing resources alike in the Mediterranean Sea.

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