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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From 200 m all the way down to its deepest point of 2 200 m, the Black Sea is nearly as lifeless as a foreign planet. At its surface, however, it hosts a rich and productive ecosystem providing the lifeblood of coastal communities for millennia. It is in this fertile environment that the invasive species, Rapana venosa (commonly known as rapa whelk), settled and rapidly reproduced, threatening local ecosystems through its prodigious appetite for other molluscs.
Today the Commission published its proposal setting out catch limits for fish stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Based on this proposal, EU fisheries ministers will set the final catch limits at the Council on 15-16 December, to apply as of 1 January 2021.
Featured on social media: 'Oceanets' working on recycling technologies for discarded, lost, or abandoned fishing gears, 'Aqualit' a project working with the aquaculture industry to prevent litter from entering the sea, 'BlueNet' recovering fishing gear from the sea and using it as raw material to manufacture new gear, 'Fishing for litter' encouraging fishermen to take ashore the litter they encounter at sea, and 'NETtag' developing devices to track lost fishing gear.