Fishing fleets from the half-dozen countries bordering the Black Sea have reaped nutritional and economic benefits from this rich resource for centuries. Today, with some fish stocks on the verge of collapse, the countries have agreed to cooperate on a major new programme to bring the latest science-based approaches to fisheries management in the Black Sea.
In Kiev last week, FAO’s regional office for Europe and Central Asia conducted the final meeting on the Black Sea Fish project, with delegates from the six littoral states: Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine.
The meeting adopted by consensus a historic project proposal document with a total budget of US$ 15 million, designed to boost scientific and technical cooperation and knowledge of marine resources in the Black Sea. High-value, migrating stocks of anchovy, turbot and other species are the focus of the project.
“For the first time in over half a century, there seems to be a genuine will from all the Black Sea littoral states to cooperate on a joint project that will generate substantial new information on the fish stocks, and possibilities for their sustainable exploitation,” said FAO fisheries officer Thomas Moth-Poulsen, who has worked closely with the countries to develop the project document. Preparatory work by national consultants from the six countries, country visits, and a jointly elaborated concept note and framework document – agreed by the countries at a workshop in Budapest last October – all were part of the lead-up to last week’s agreement. After the Budapest workshop, the draft project document was circulated to the six countries, and their suggestions were incorporated. The document was further revised and refined by the delegates during the Kiev meeting.
Scientific cooperation, fish stock assessment, development of statistical databases, work on safety at sea, environmentally friendly fishing and better long-term returns for the fishing fleets are foreseen under the project. After official endorsement by the six Black Sea states, the project will be presented for funding by donors or by a consortium of donors – some of whom have already expressed interest.
“The clear message from the countries,” said Moth-Poulsen, “is that they want a genuine Black Sea project, independent of other regional organizations, with an office in one of the Black Sea Countries, and executed with the help of FAO.”
30 January 2014