The Black Sea is a sea basin with important potential, but also challenges with regard to sustainable use of its marine resources. The Commission has therefore taken the leadership in developing a new approach towards sustainability and development in the Black Sea fisheries and aquaculture. Together with the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea (GFCM), the Commission launched the preparation of a ministerial declaration of all Black Sea riparian countries (the Sofia Ministerial Declaration), as follow-up to the 2016 Bucharest Declaration. The new Declaration, signed on 7 June 2018, contains concrete and measurable actions and timelines for the Black Sea for the next ten years.
In October 2016, GFCM and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), organised a High Level Conference on enhanced cooperation on Black Sea fisheries and aquaculture, bringing together representatives of Black Sea EU Member States and riparian third countries, the Commission and international organisations. The Conference adopted the Bucharest Ministerial Declaration, which underlines the need for collaborative approach to address Black Sea fisheries issues, including sustainability of marine resources, better data collection and improvement of the scientific advice, sustainable development of aquaculture and compliance and fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Following an evaluation of the Bucharest Declaration, a Ministerial Conference was organised in Sofia on 6 and 7 June 2018, to take stock of the state of implementation and to adopt a concrete action plan for fisheries and aquaculture. The resulting Sofia Ministerial Declaration sets objectives and targets and requests actions. It has as objectives to commit all Black Sea riparian countries on the designed measures, provide ownership, enhance regional cooperation, create a culture of compliance and operationalize the political commitments given in the Bucharest Declaration. It is also aligned with the GFCM 2017-2020 mid-term strategies in fisheries and aquaculture.
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The EU organised and hosted a three-day meeting for scientists from the 10 signatories to the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean. The meeting took place from 11 to 13 February 2020 at the EU Joint Research Centre in Ispra (Italy). The agreement will ban unregulated fisheries in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean for 16 years. During this period, a scientific research and monitoring programme will be put in place. At the meeting, scientists discussed concrete ways to implement this programme.
The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has developed a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) used in maritime surveillance operations.
The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) has published three compliance evaluation reports on the implementation of the landing obligation. These reports confirm that non-compliance with the landing obligation has been widespread in the North Sea and North Western Waters for specific fisheries during the evaluation period (2015 to 2017). The failure to enforce the landing obligation is a matter of serious concern to the European Commission and jeopardises the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which includes ensuring the long-term environmental sustainability of fishing activities and the gradual elimination of discards.