The European Commission has adopted its first ever proposal on sustainable fishing opportunities in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
The proposal, drawn up in accordance with the Commission’s 2018 Sofia Declaration on rebuilding Black Sea fish stocks and its 2017 MedFish4Ever commitment to protect fish stocks in the Mediterranean, is intended to support the economic viability of the EU’s fishing industry; while averting the risk of overfishing by creating sustainable fishing opportunities. 78% of assessed fish stocks in the Mediterranean and Black Seas in 2016 were fished outwith the limits of sustainability, leading to widespread concern over the long term impact of overactive fishing in the regions.
The proposal would see fishing of eel in the Mediterranean closed entirely for a three-month period, while strict limits would be placed on the fishing of small pelagic and demersal stocks. Other sealife commonly fished in the Mediterranean – blue shrimp, deep-water rose shrimp, giant red shrimp, hake, Norway lobster, red mullet and red shrimp – would be subject to further catch limits to maintain sustainable fishing opportunities.
Catch limits and quotas for turbot and sprat in the Black Sea are also detailed in the proposal: while sprat would continue to be subject to the Commission’s 2019 Black Sea catch limits, while specific limits for turbot are set to be based on revisions on current quotas, to be cemented later in the year.
Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “Throughout my term in office, I have been working to reverse the alarming situation for most fish stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, as part of the EU’s wider commitment to sustainable fisheries. It is a long process but today’s proposal is another important step in the right direction.”
The Commission’s proposal on sustainable fishing opportunities will be subject to further negotiations at the annual meeting of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, to be held between 4 November and 8 November 2019.