New regulations for Mediterranean fishing take force
Safeguarding deep-sea habitats and reducing by-catch to support productive fisheries
5 September 2005, Rome - New fishing regulations aimed at safeguarding the fishery resources of the Mediterranean Sea have entered into force today.
The measures, jointly agreed upon by the 24 members* of FAO's General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), are now to be enforced at the national level by all GFCM members.
Safeguarding breeding stocks to ensure viable fisheries
Among the new measures now in force is a ban on towed trawl nets and dredges at depths greater than 1 000 metres.
In line with what FAO calls "the precautionary approach" to fisheries management, the ban aims to protect fragile deep-sea habitats found on the sea bottom and the slow-growing fish which live there -- themselves often an important source of food for other commercially-popular fish species living at shallower depths.
Mediterranean countries are also now requiring that trawlers use a minimum mesh-size opening of 40mm in the "cod end" section of their nets in order to allow smaller, juvenile fish to escape, thereby conserving breeding stocks. This measure should also help to reduce accidental catches of non-target species.
Centralized registry will help reduce illegal fishing
GFCM members have agreed to establish a centralized registry listing all ships over 15 metres long which they have authorized to fish on their national registries.
Any boat in that size-class not listed in the registry will be deemed unauthorized to operate in GFCM waters and subject to possible penalties under domestic laws of GFCM members if observed fishing.
According to Alain Bonzon, GFCM's Executive Secretary, the registry will deter illegal, unregulated and underreported (IUU) fishing, help ensure that fisheries comply with GFCM requirements, and improve monitoring of fishing in the region.
Closer oversight of tuna-farming
Additionally, GFCM countries have agreed to take a number of steps to tighten oversight of and reporting on tuna-fattening operations, also known as capture-based aquaculture, a technique in which small fish are caught in the wild and then penned and fattened using aquaculture techniques.
These measures were adopted jointly with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) and include more stringent controls on the minimum size of harvested bluefin tuna, limiting captures to fish over 10kg in weight
FAO, in its most recent State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report, expressed concern over the impact that harvesting immature fish has on wild stocks as well as the need to develop manufactured feeds for penned fish, rather than using imported raw fish.
* GFCM members include: Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, EC, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro, Spain, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Membership is open to both Mediterranean coastal states as well as to countries which fish in Mediterranean waters.
Information Officer, FAO
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