Fish stocks in the Mediterranean are in an alarming state – some are even on the verge of depletion. Redressing this situation is one of the Commission's key priorities for the coming years, but will require bold and urgent action, as Commissioner Vella stressed at a high-level seminar in Sicily earlier this month.
At today's meeting with GFCM Chair Mr Stefano Cataudella and Executive Secretary Mr Abdellah Srour, Commissioner Vella therefore invited the GFCM to attend a meeting of all Mediterranean fisheries ministers in Brussels in April, and to discuss with them what specific measures could be taken to save Mediterranean stocks.
The GFCM is the main regional fisheries management organisation in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has 24 members: 23 countries, including 10 EU Member States, and the EU.
Commissioner Vella is also meeting FAO Director General Mr Jose Graziano da Silva today to explore how to reinforce existing cooperation between the EU and FAO.
The EU and FAO share the objective of making fisheries and, more broadly, ocean governance more sustainable. Both sides see better ocean management as key to achieving the UN's sustainable development goals and ensuring food security, blue growth and healthy oceans.
Possible avenues of cooperation could include strengthening the efficiency of regional fisheries bodies, improving information exchange in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and Black Sea through joint projects.
Commissioner Vella also used the visit to inform Mr Graziano da Silva on the EU's recent ocean governance work, including the findings of the Commission's public consultation.