The Malta MedFish4Ever Declaration is a proud moment for all involved.
It is a practical example of EU’s successful neighbourhood policy. Over the last two days we have seen the strength of the EU working with and for its Member States – and working with and for the best interests of its neighbours.
The Mediterranean Sea is a unique sea basin, characterised by its long coastline and a fishing sector providing jobs for over 300 000 people. 80% of its fleet belongs to small-scale fishermen (with vessels under 10m long), who fish a quarter of the total catches. These jobs are at risk as fish stocks in the Mediterranean are shrinking: about 90% of assessed stocks are over-exploited.
The Declaration agreed today is based on promoting a strategic long-term approach.
It combines global strategic commitments with a grassroots understanding.
It is a Mediterranean route to recovery.
I would like to thank the Maltese Presidency, to Roderick (Minister Galdes) and to the Commission services, and above all to each of the national delegations, for their dedication in securing a meaningful Declaration.
The EU is at its best when leading by example. The European Union has very publicly expressed its commitment to the realisation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 14 to sustainably use the oceans in particular.
We are leading by example in setting out a detailed work programme for the next 10 years, based on ambitious but realistic targets.
But this global ocean approach means nothing if we cannot show our understanding for the everyday realities for over 300,000 fishermen directly employed in the 450 ports around the Mediterranean.
This Declaration was signed by Mediterranean Governmental representatives from both northern and southern coastlines. Each and every one of those signatories has an intimate understanding of those everyday realities for the regions fishermen. They speak to them, know their names and even have family histories steeped in fishing tradition.
This is why this is more than a signature that gives political ownership. It is a route to recovery.
This is the result of a European Commission-led process that started in Catania, Sicily in February 2016.
On fisheries resources, on the blue economy, on social inclusion, and on solidarity between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean we have made real progress.
To give some examples:
By 2020, Mediterranean stocks should be subject to adequate data collection and scientifically assessed on a regular basis. In particular small-scale fishermen who will contribute more to data provision.
We must establish a multi-annual management plan for all key fisheries.
On its part, the Commission has already initiated this process with its proposal for an Adriatic multi-annual fisheries plan – one of the reasons I was in Croatia last week – to explain our plans face to face with Croatian fishermen.
And we must tackle, with GFCM, the issue of IUU.
These are just some of the measures we have committed to both in principle and in practical measures to make sure that we can regularly take stock and ensure that stay on that route to recovery.
Official press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-770_en.htm
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