The 42nd annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) drew to a successful close on October 26th.
The decisions adopted in Rome are concrete deliveries of political pledges secured under the Malta "MedFish4ever" Declaration, the Sofia Declaration for the Black Sea fisheries and aquaculture, as well as the GFCM 2017-2020 strategy. The newly adopted measures will help improve the state of fish stocks and the economic prospects in the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. This achievement proves that committed regional cooperation can significantly contribute to the urgent goals of bringing the stocks to a sustainable level and ensuring a viable future for the sector.
The forty-second session of the GFCM concluded its work on Friday, in Rome, after a week of intensive discussions. The GFCM adopted a set of ambitious measures, following the work of the European Commission, the Member States and the remarkable multilateral cooperation established with all riparian countries. As many as 11 decisions were adopted, all of them initiated by the EU, some of them jointly with other Contracting Parties. These decisions reinforce the recovery of fish stocks, as well as the fight against IUU in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Particularly notable progress has been made in ensuring that a maximum of key fisheries is managed under multi-annual plans. Thus, the GFCM adopted multiannual plans for the European eel, the giant red shrimp and the blue and red shrimp in the Ionian and in the Levant Seas. The latter two plans also set up a comprehensive monitoring, control and surveillance programme, following successful implementation of similar programmes in the Strait of Sicily and Black Sea. Conservation and management measures were also adopted for the small pelagic in the Adriatic Sea, for Rapa whelk in the Black Sea, for Blue Crab in the Mediterranean, as well as for Sharks and Rays. The consolidated management measures for the Strait of Sicily as well as the decisions on the marking of fishing gears and on access to information for the contracting Parties engaged in joint inspection schemes will further reinforce control and fight against IUU fishing.
The resolve shown in Rome is a significant step towards reverting the alarming status of the stocks, boosting blue growth and ensuring sustainable livelihoods for the region in line with the objectives of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, the Malta "MedFish4ever" and Sofia Declarations, the Ministerial Declaration adopting a Regional Plan of Action for small-scale fisheries and the GFCM 2017-2020 mid-term Strategy.
The EU confirmed that it will continue to support the efforts of the third countries in strengthening their capacity building, namely through its Neighbourhood Policy. The EU will also continue to support the ongoing cooperation between Algeria, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco and Tunisia in implementing control, monitoring and surveillance measures in the Strait of Sicily. Moreover, a Pilot Project for reinforcing integrated monitoring and control measures in the Black Sea will be launched. Both measures will be coordinated by the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).
The GFCM also agreed to organise two high-level events in June 2019: a follow-up to the MedFish4Ever Declaration to assess progress made since 2017; as well as a Conference on social development, employment and decent work in small-scale fisheries, which reflects a commitment of the recently adopted Regional Plan of Action for small-scale fisheries in the region. Still this year, on 10-14 December 2018, the Scientific Forum on Fisheries Science will bring together the community of scientists with the aim to build a network, discuss advancements, integrate scientific knowledge in support of decision-making processes and identify research priorities for the coming decade.
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