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General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)

High level decision-makers call upon the GFCM to coordinate efforts towards the sustainability of Mediterranean fisheries


30/03/2017

Malta – The Ministers and high level representatives of Mediterranean riparian states, the European Commission and the European Parliament, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) have just signed, in Malta, a declaration to improve the situation of Mediterranean fisheries over the next decade. In order to achieve its ambitious but realistic targets, the Malta Declaration gives a central role to the GFCM to steer and coordinate action to strengthen governance and ensure the environmental, economic and social sustainability of Mediterranean fisheries.

Mediterranean fisheries have a long-standing history in supporting the livelihoods of coastal communities and local economies. They are of vital importance for food security and, with 300 000 persons directly employed on fishing vessels, they provide essential socio-economic benefits. However, with approximately 90 percent of the scientifically assessed stocks considered to be fished outside safe biological limits, stagnant fleet numbers and decreasing catches, it is high time to move up a gear and take all-encompassing measures. Indeed, this alarming trend not only has negative impacts on the fisheries sector, but also hinders efforts to secure livelihoods and food security in the region.

Fourteen years after the adoption, in 2003, of the Declaration of the Ministerial Conference for the Sustainable Development of Fisheries in the Mediterranean, the GFCM has become a stronger and modern organization which has the necessary autonomy and operational means to fully meet the new challenges, as the competent fisheries body for the Mediterranean Sea. Thanks to important institutional changes over the last years, the GFCM has reinforced its core scientific and management work, ensuring better coordination between scientists and decision-makers, establishing common and binding rules to set up subregional multiannual management plans and area-based management tools, implementing stronger compliance mechanisms, creating a modern data collection system, enhancing cooperation and fighting IUU fishing. According to Mr Stefano Cataudella, GFCM Chairperson, “there is now a unique and proper institutional framework which will enable us to achieve together the ambitious tasks we have to face”.

With the adoption, in 2016, of the Mid-term strategy (2017–2020) towards the sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries, which is fully in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (in particular Goal 14: “Conserve and sustainably use the ocean, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”), a clear and articulated programme of work has been defined to capture all current challenges, and the Malta Declaration represents another strong contribution to this commitment.

“GFCM applauds the signature of the Malta Declaration as a decisive tool to secure a brighter future for Mediterranean fisheries” said Mr Abdellah Srour, GFM Executive Secretary.