PR 97/58

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Press Release 97/58


Rome, October 30 -- Amid growing concern for the overexploitation of fisheries in the Mediterranean, particularly for certain heavily-fished species such as bluefin tuna and young swordfish, the General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (GFCM) has adopted two new resolutions aimed at relieving pressure on fishery stocks and promoting their sustainable use.

One resolution strictly bans fishing boats from carrying one or more driftnets on board if the combined length exceeds 2.5 kilometers. In the past, some fishing boats lashed several nets together enabling them to trawl for fish over areas far greater than 2.5 kilometers. Another resolution prohibits purse-seine fishing for bluefin tuna during August, as well as banning aircraft and helicopter support in such fishing operations during June in order to better protect spawning fish stocks. GFCM members have 120 days to object to these two resolutions, after which they become binding.

In a third non-binding resolution, the GFCM called on its members to report on any fishing activities by vessels flying the flag of non-members which do not comply with GFCM recommendations, as well as on the activities of flagless vessels.

The Council, meeting October 13-16, also discussed two sets of amendments: the first dealing with the GFCM Agreement to allow regional economic integration organizations to become members, thus allowing the EC to join, and the second concerned the establishment of an autonomous budget.

The first set of amendments is expected to be approved at the FAO Council, which meets November 4-6. At that time, the GFCM will change its title from Council to Commission, and the EC may apply to become a Member.

The GFCM also agreed to establish a Scientific Advisory Committee and to cancel the Committee on Fisheries Management and the Executive Committee. The Council agreed to maintain the Committee on Aquaculture.

Twenty of the 22 member countries attended the GFCM meeting. Observers included the Russian Federation, the European Community, Greenpeace International, World Wildlife Fund, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan.


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