The United Nations’ (UN) General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean has adopted a package of measures aimed at shoring up transparency and sustainability.
The 43rd session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), an offshoot of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has adopted 15 new decisions on the governance and oversight of the region’s fisheries. The package includes measures on boosting transparency within the aquaculture and fishing sectors; legislation to protect essential habitats and marine wildlife; and the Mediterranean region’s first regulatory framework designed to protect endangered coral species, 15 years after the UN first called for legislation to protect deep sea habitats in 2004.
The package adopted by the GFCM represents the highest number of policies the commission has approved at one time. Its measures include:
- A mechanism enshrining transparency between Member States, committing Mediterranean countries to produce annual reports on their fisheries agreements;
- A new clause requiring Member States to ensure their citizens do not participate in or benefit from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices;
- The development and implementation of new management plans for the preservation of essential fish habitats;
- A plan to determine new Fisheries Restricted Areas, marine regions where fishing is limited to protect fish stocks and spawning grounds;
- Increased action to enforce both new and existing Fisheries Restricted Areas; and
- A regulatory framework setting standards for the protection and conservation of coral species which may be under threat from fishing activity.
Pascale Moehrle, executive director for ocean environment campaigning body Oceana Europe, said: “Mediterranean countries have taken an important step to restore the abundance of this sea and protect some of its most vulnerable wildlife. Oceana urges them now to enforce these decisions and adopt robust compliance systems including sanctions, so that these decisions are truly effective. GFCM’s credibility will be at stake as long as the Mediterranean remains the world’s most overexploited sea.”