The 40th annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) drew to a successful close on 3 June. Decisions made in Malta are in line with the European Commission's strategy to improve the state of the Mediterranean fish stocks and the economic prospects of the fishing industry. Commissioner Karmenu Vella expressed his deep satisfaction with the outcome, which "ushers in a new era of action to help fish stocks recover and fishing communities thrive."
The EU had proposed a range of measures to reverse the worrying trend of declining fish stocks in the Mediterranean. Thanks to the work of the European Commission, the EU Member States and the remarkable North – South cooperation of all riparian countries the GFCM adopted a set of ambitious measures.
Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, commented: "This year's GFCM annual session was a truly historic meeting. After the troubling diagnosis concerning the future of Mediterranean fish stocks and the fishing economy, we now started to take corrective action. I am convinced that the steps agreed will usher in a new era of action that will help fish stocks recover and fishing communities thrive. The progress made at GFCM was a significant boost to the European Commission's #MedFish4Ever campaign "
The measures agreed include:
The GFCM also highlighted the importance of building a sound economic future for small-scale fisheries, which make up the bulk of the Mediterranean fishing fleet.
It endorsed the principles of a GFCM strategy for the sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries, setting out the areas of work for the years 2017-2020.
In addition, GFCM decided to set up a working group on sustainable small-scale fisheries and recreational fisheries and a scientific working group on vulnerable marine ecosystems.
In parallel to the work carried out within the GFCM, the European Commission will start working on a ministerial declaration on sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean to be adopted by all Mediterranean countries in March 2017, giving further impetus to sustainable fisheries and a productive sector in the Mediterranean. The GFCM work will be imperative in this process.
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