FAO.org

FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

World Fisheries Day: Black Sea countries team up to ensure sustainability of marine resources

Since the 1960s, a series of dramatic environmental changes have occurred in the Black Sea, putting at risk the survival of living marine resources. Black Sea countries have united to tackle this grave situation and achieve sustainable fisheries in the region.

On World Fisheries Day (21 November), FAO’s General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) welcomes the recent improvements in the management and conservation of marine resources in the region and celebrates Bulgaria’s 50-year anniversary of joining the GFCM.

A key sector for the Black Sea economy is fisheries, which generates an annual revenue of USD 350 million, with more than 350 tonnes fished every year. To help protect fish stocks, the GFCM – the regional fisheries management organization of the FAO that has competence for all marine waters of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea – launched the BlackSea4Fish project that organizes training and technical activities to standardize methodologies and promotes data and knowledge sharing in the region.

“We have to continue strengthening regional cooperation to foster the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of Black Sea fisheries and aquaculture,” says Desislava Taneva, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry of Bulgaria. “Our common responsibility is to have a healthy Black Sea ecosystem and sustainable fish resources for the present and future generations through the adoption of effective conservation, management and control measures.”

“Thanks to strengthened political commitments and increased funding and contributions from riparian countries, in the next years we are expecting to see the dream of a complete regional survey of the whole Black Sea come true,” says Abdellah Srour, Executive Secretary of the GFCM. “This survey will be key to acquire state-of-the-art scientific information in order to formulate advice and set up cutting edge management plans for the region.”

Bulgaria hosts the GFCM´s technical unit located in Burgas (Bulgaria), which promotes cooperation across Black Sea countries by facilitating dialogue on regional issues and common transboundary challenges linked to fisheries and aquaculture in the Black Sea.

“Without the activity that we are performing here jointly under the auspices of the GFCM, we would never be able to achieve such clear and transparent results,” says Oleksandr Chashchyn, Leading Scientist of the Southern Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography Odessa (Ukraine).

This is the first time experts from all the countries in the region are being provided with training and are able to use harmonized methodologies. The knowledge gained from this collaboration is used to assess the state of marine fish stocks and significantly improve the understanding of fish populations.

“The activities that have been developed in the last few years also have another very practical application, as we already have seven GFCM decisions that were made in particular reference to Black Sea fisheries, and some of them have already been implemented,” says Simion Nicolaev, General Director of the National Institute for Marine Research and Development “Grigore Antipa” in Constanţa, Romania.

These decisions create a harmonized framework for the management of Black Sea resources that benefits all the coastal communities. Monitoring, control, and surveillance activities have been launched and, over the past few years, much has been done to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Particular attention is paid to turbot, whose stocks were depleted due to overfishing for its high commercial value. Various bans, monitoring programmes, and awareness campaigns are now in place in order to protect this precious common resource.

Aquaculture also has a major role to play in the Black Sea. Aquaculture Demonstrative Centres have been created to provide capacity-building and technical assistance in order to stimulate fresh investment and a political commitment for the sustainable development of the sector. Success stories in the Black Sea involve aquaculture for turbot, rainbow trout, seabass, and Black Sea mussels. Two centres are already functioning in Romania and Turkey and a new one in Bulgaria should be ready by the end of 2020.

21 November 2019, Rome, Italy

Share this page