Fisheries

Increased opportunities for small-scale fishermen in the Mediterranean and Black Sea

Increased opportunities for small-scale fishermen in the Mediterranean and Black Sea

Increased opportunities for small-scale fishermen in the Mediterranean and Black Sea

Ministers from EU Member States and riparian third countries adopted an ambitious 10-year Regional Action Plan for sustainable small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The plan sets out detailed measures to ensure a sustainable use of fish stocks, whilst restoring long-term economic and social prosperity for small-scale fishers and coastal communities.

The High Level Conference on sustainable small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, co-organised by FAO's General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and Malta, with the financial support of the European Commission, concluded today with an agreement on a historic political commitment.

Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: "Fisheries in the Mediterranean and Black Seas are predominantly small and family-run. But at the moment, they are facing serious challenges as more than 90% of assessed fish stocks are overfished. We need to work side by side with small-scale fishermen if we want healthy and sustainable seas, so that fishermen families can continue using their traditional source of living for generations ahead. After last year’s MedFish4Ever Declaration and the Sofia Declaration earlier this year, today's high-level conference is the next important step towards this goal."

Today’s Ministerial Declaration takes ambitions to the next level by translating the political commitments set in the Malta MedFish4Ever Declaration (2017) and the Sofia Declaration (2018) into a detailed regional plan. The plan reinforces opportunities for small-scale fishermen in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions by giving them a voice in the decisions that affect their livelihoods. It aims at enhancing their capacities in contributing to food security and in achieving economic, social and employment benefits while safeguarding environmentally sustainable fishing practices.

The High Level Conference on sustainable small-scale fisheries highlighted best practice from the region, showcasing the progress made in recent years at a dedicated event yesterday. Today, a new digital platform, "Friends of Small-scale Fishermen" was launched. Partly financed by the EU, it is an easy-to-use mapping tool visualising all ongoing projects and investments in small-scale fisheries, and enhancing cooperation across the region.

Background

Small-scale fisheries play a key role in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region, representing over 84% of total fishing fleet and employing nearly 62% of the total workforce on board fishing vessels. It is typically a family-based fishery, where owners are directly involved in the fishing activity. Together with other maritime activities, it holds a significant share in local economies. It secures jobs and maintains families. It provides consumers with healthy food, and in some countries it is an essential source for food security.

This week’s High Level Conference on sustainable small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean and Black Sea in Malta is the culmination of work carried out in recent years, seeking to elicit political support and concrete action for small-scale fisheries in the region. It is the result of the European Commission’s strategy to establish a new dynamic in multilateral fisheries governance in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, on the basis of commonly agreed principles established in the GFCM mid-term strategy 2017-2020.

The following parties signed the Declaration: 10 EU Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Romania, Slovenia, Spain), 8 non-EU countries (Albania, Algeria, Georgia, Lebanon, Libya, Montenegro, Morocco, Turkey) and the European Commission. Bosnia and Herzegovina should sign in the coming months. Other high-level parties present were Palestine, FAO, GFCM, WWF and European Fisheries Control Agency.

The action plan is a concrete follow-up of the Malta MedFish4Ever Ministerial Declaration adopted in March 2017. It is also in line with the Sofia Ministerial Declaration, adopted in June 2018, to boost regional cooperation in Black Sea fisheries.

Next year’s conference will take place in Tunisia, underscoring the importance of all riparian states working together towards the shared objective of achieving sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

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