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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

FAO Director-General meets EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Damanaki visits FAO for the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean
FAO Director-General and EU's Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

20 May 2014, Rome – FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today held talks with the EU’s top fisheries official, Commissioner Maria Damanaki, who attended the 38th session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), held at FAO headquarters.

“Blue growth –sustainable management of the world’s oceans and wetlands-  is one of our priorities and crucial for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries”, Graziano da Silva said.

The discussions focused on the fight against illegal fishing as a priority.  While they agreed that good progress has been made, they stressed that much more needs to be done in terms of adequate resources, expertise and capacity building.

FAO Director-General underlined the importance of protecting artisanal fishing and requested the support of the EU to assist fishers in the overall chain process, particularly during this year of the International Year of Family Farming. He noted that one of the new FAO Ambassadors for Family Farming is a fisherman from Mauritania.

In her address to the GFCM, Commissioner Damanaki welcomed a key reform to the body to strengthen cooperation between GFCM Members for the sustainable management of the stocks they share.

She praised the GFCM and FAO for their role in introducing the reform. “The EU has contributed greatly to this work and has been working very closely with all its partners in the region,” Damanaki said.

“We are fully committed to implement together with our partners this reform as soon as possible. I am convinced that this Agreement will become indispensable for the future of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries and fishermen,” the Commissioner added.

She also stressed the need for urgent action to improve the status of stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Fish remains among the most traded food commodities worldwide, worth almost $130 billion in 2012 –a figure which is likely to increase according to FAO.

However, FAO warns that harmful practices and poor management threatens the fisheries sector’s sustainability.

The importance of fish is set to feature prominently at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) jointly organized by FAO and the World Health Organization for 19-21 November in Rome.

Commissioner Damanaki expressed her intention to attend the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) meeting at FAO (9-13 June).