Decisions adopted in Montenegro are the first concrete outcomes of the Malta "MedFish4ever" Declaration to improve the state of fish stocks and the economic prospects in the Mediterranean Sea. Commissioner Karmenu Vella expressed his deep satisfaction with the result, which gives an impetus to "our endeavour to turn around the dire state of the stocks and ensure viable future for fishermen around the Mediterranean and Black Seas. This achievement proves that enhanced cooperation leads to the desired results".
The forty-first session of the GFCM concluded its work on Friday 20 October in Budva, Montenegro, after five days of intensive discussions. Thanks to the joint efforts of the European Commission, the Member States and the other riparian countries, the GFCM adopted a set of ambitious measures.
Despite the complex challenges that the region faces, this annual session of GFCM was marked by enhanced and successful cooperation among all parties (the European Union, its Member States and third countries) to promote healthy fisheries and aquaculture, while safeguarding the marine environment.
As many as 14 decisions were adopted, 10 of which initiated by the EU. These measures are paramount for the recovery of fish stocks and the protection of vulnerable habitats in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Particularly remarkable are the decisions taken to support the establishment of a Fisheries Restricted Area in the Adriatic Sea (Pomo/Jabuka Pit); the management plan for Turbot in the Black Sea (including a pilot international scheme of inspections); the plans for the Red Coral and the Blackspot Seabream; the adoption of an international scheme for inspection in the Strait of Sicily; the regional Plan of Action to fight Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and the implementation of a strategy for sustainable aquaculture.
Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries commented: "This year's GFCM session was a success with respect to our primary aim. That is improving the dire state of the stocks and ensuring a viable future for our fishers around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. I am happy to see that the Malta MedFish4Ever Declaration is already delivering. "
The resolve shown in Budva is a significant step towards reversing the alarming status of the stocks, thus boosting blue growth and sustainable livelihoods for the region, the Malta MedFish4ever Declaration and the GFCM 2017-2020 mid-term Strategy.
The EU has also confirmed its commitment to support the efforts of third countries in strengthening capacity building, notably through the Neighbourhood Policy.
On its part, the GFCM agreed to organise a number of key events in 2018: a High-level Conference on the Black Sea, as a follow up to the Bucharest Declaration; a High-level Conference on the small-scale fisheries that should result in the definition of the regional action plan, as well as a Forum on Fisheries Science with the aim to enhance scientific cooperation by coordinating and harmonising scientific advice. These important events will establish concrete work plans for the future of Black Sea, small scale fisheries and fisheries science.
It is now expected that the decisions taken at the 41st GFCM Annual Session will result in concrete benefits for food security in the region, the quality and quantity of available fisheries products, the legal protection from unfair competition, and the social stability of riparian States – in particular, by safeguarding employment, livelihoods and the social fabric – in order to build a more prosperous future for the region.