European Parliament vote will serve as crash test of its ambition for ocean biodiversity and the climate

Tomorrow, 3 May 2022, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will be watched by citizens and NGOs as they vote in a plenary session in Strasbourg on a crucial text for the climate and the protection of marine biodiversity and habitats.

As part of the Own Initiative Report of Portuguese socialist MEP Mrs. Isabel Carvalhais “Toward a sustainable blue economy in the EU” [1], Green MEP Caroline Roose tabled an amendment that was already adopted in the Fisheries and Development Committees of the European Parliament, and that is therefore going to be voted in Plenary. Mrs. Roose’s amendment sets out the very fundamentals of what a true “Marine Protected Area” should be by proposing to prohibit one of the most destructive forms of fishing, bottom trawling, in all marine protected areas.

Bottom trawling is a fishing method that consists in towing huge weighted nets and metal chains along the seafloor. It consumes large quantities of fuel, destroys marine ecosystems, levels habitats and catches all marine life indiscriminately. To make matters worse, the heavy towed nets stir up the carbon that is naturally stored in marine sediments, thereby worsening the climate crisis. Such destructive ways of catching fish have no place in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and are recognised internationally as incompatible with the concept of “protected” areas. Mrs. Roose’s amendment aims at raising the EU’s ambition on marine protection, to be on par with international standards on MPAs in a context of accelerating environmental crises.

If the conservative EPP political group, led by Spanish MEP Gabriel Mato, hadn’t called for a separate vote, the prohibition of bottom trawling inside Marine Protected Areas would have been adopted as part of the report. But this separate vote request was made with the purpose of singling out the prohibition of bottom trawling inside protected areas in order to “kill” it. Another Plenary amendment has been proposed by a group of MEPs, led by French Renew MEP Pierre Karleskind, which would eviscerate the text of any meaning. At a time of an unprecedented climatic crisis and biodiversity  collapse, voting to defend a ban on the most destructive fishing in our most sensitive ocean areas should be a “no brainer” for MEPs, but this does not take into account the bonds between MEPs and industrial fishing lobbies.

This vote will be a crash test of the European Parliament’s capacity to free itself from the influence of corporate lobbies with short-sighted interests. Although an own initiative report does not result in legally-binding legislation, the vote will send an important political signal that can reinforce the European Commission’s will to tackle the issue of poorly – if at all – “protected” areas of European waters and of the dreadful impacts of destructive fisheries on marine biodiversity and the seabed.

NGOs and citizens have asked MEPs to support the text as voted in the Development and Fisheries committees, and to thus follow Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expert recommendations in order to act with determination for our common future. Last year, more than 150,000 EU citizens called on the EU to ban bottom-trawling, starting immediately in all marine protected areas. Expectations are high and the vote will be closely followed. 

Références

[1] Own-initiative report 2021/2188(INI) by the Portuguese Socialist MEP Isabel Carvalhais: “Toward a sustainable blue economy in the EU: the role of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors ».

El Conocimiento Ecológico Local de los Pescadores permite detectar la presencia de Ecosistemas Marinos Vulnerables en la zona marítima frente al Delta del Ebro

Una investigación publicada recientemente muestra como la experiencia de los pescadores locales puede contribuir a un mejor conocimiento de los recursos marinos, y así contribuir a establecer mejores medidas de gestión y de protección.

Barcelona, 24 de marzo de 2022

Una investigación científica publicada recientemente en la revista Fisheries Research ha llevado a cabo entrevistas a numerosos pescadores que faenan en la zona marítima frente al Delta del Ebro, con el fin de evaluar la percepción de los pescadores con respecto al estado de los recursos marinos demersales, es decir, sobre el estado de las especies que viven en el fondo marino.

El estudio ha analizado la percepción de los pescadores de arrastre de fondo desde los años 80 hasta la actualidad en la zona marítima frente al Delta del Ebro. Ha identificado áreas de pesca históricas donde especies y Ecosistemas Marinos Vulnerables -como el coral bambú y plumas marinas-, todavía están presentes. Se trata de una información determinante para poder establecer medidas de gestión tales como Zonas de Recuperación Pesquera.

Concretamente, el estudio abarca la zona comprendida entre Cap de Salou (Tarragona) y Castellón de la Plana (Castellón), en un área marina que cubre una extensión de unos 7.000 km2 y presenta un rango de profundidad de 40 a 900 metros.

Cambios importantes en la abundancia de especies

Esta metodología, también conocida como Conocimiento Ecológico Local, ha demostrado que puede contribuir sustancialmente a mejorar la información histórica disponible y conocer la tendencia de especies de gran interés comercial para la flota, en este caso para la flota de arrastre de fondo cercana al Delta del Ebro, cuyas especies objetivo son la merluza, los salmonetes, los langostinos, o las galeras, y sobre las cuales no siempre existen evaluaciones científicas cuantitativas sobre el estado de los recursos explotados.

La investigación, en la que han colaborado investigadores de la Fundación ENT y de MedReAct, y que ha contado con la participación de investigadores del Instituto de Ciencias del Mar (ICM-CSIC), ha documentado cambios importantes en la abundancia de especies. Por ejemplo, desde la década de los 80 hasta la actualidad la galera y el salmonete de fango han sido las dos especies que más han aumentado, mientras que la merluza y la caballa han sido las que más han disminuido. Un dato que concuerda con las evaluaciones científicas disponibles.

Presencia significativa de especies vulnerables

En este trabajo, y mediante el uso de la percepción de los pescadores, el estudio ha podido determinar que una zona marítima frente al Delta del Ebro destaca sobre el resto (denominada Área 4 en el estudio) por mostrar una aparente relevancia en cuanto a la presencia de Ecosistemas Marinos Vulnerables, tanto en el pasado como en la actualidad. Concretamente, los pescadores entrevistados han destacado que aunque se ha reducido notablemente la captura incidental de especies de corales, en esta área todavía se detecta una presencia significativa de varias de estas especies vulnerables, en especial de plumas de mar y en menor medida de otros corales como el coral bambú.

Una herramienta nueva para poder establecer medidas de gestión y protección

Además de documentar cambios de las especies comerciales más comunes, el estudio también ha analizado información sobre especies generadoras de hábitat -tales como corales, esponjas y plumas marinas- consideradas especies clave e indicadoras de Ecosistemas Marinos Vulnerables. Al ser vulnerables a la acción humana, particularmente a las pesquerías de fondo, conocer su presencia y distribución (presente y pasada) permite poder proponer medidas de gestión y de protección de estas especies.

Marta Coll, investigadora del ICM-CSIC y una de las autoras del estudio, considera que “la falta de información biológica y ecológica perjudica la gestión de las pesquerías y la implementación de la gestión basada en el ecosistema”. “Explorar el uso del Conocimiento Ecológico Local de los pescadores como fuente adicional de datos, con el fin de reducir la brecha de conocimiento científico existente, nos ha permitido aumentar el conocimiento sobre el estado y la distribución espacial de especies y ecosistemas vulnerables que se deberían proteger”.  

Debido a estos hallazgos, Lydia Chaparro, Ecóloga marina de la Fundación ENT considera que “la zona marítima en el exterior del Delta del Ebro podría ser una de las mejores candidatas para convertirse en una nueva Zona de Restricción Pesquera en el Mediterráneo debido a la gran riqueza ecológica que presenta”“Por ello, si se han documentado la presencia de una zona con especies vulnerables que necesitan protección, el Gobierno debería establecer sin demora medidas urgentes de gestión pesquera en la zona más allá de las medidas ya existentes”.

En esta misma línea la investigación menciona un caso de éxito en el Mar Adriático, donde el establecimiento de una Zona de Restricción Pesquera conocida como Jabuka/Pomo Pit ha demostrado que proteger zonas vulnerables de la actividad pesquera ha permitido en pocos años recuperar la biomasa de especies comerciales agotadas. Lo que ha conllevado beneficios ambientales, pero también beneficios para los propios pescadores que operan en las proximidades del área protegida.

La consecución del Objetivo “30×30” de la UE, que tiene como meta proteger de forma eficaz el 30% de las zonas marinas para el año 2030, y de cómo el establecimiento de Zonas de Restricción Pesquera pueden contribuir efectivamente a cumplir con dicho objetivo, será muy probablemente uno de los temas tratados durante la “Monaco Ocean Week” que tiene lugar esta semana en el Principado de Mónaco. En esta ocasión, la comunidad científica, ONG, gestores y demás participantes debatirán los últimos hallazgos y medidas entorno la conservación del océano.

NO MORE PUBLIC SUBSIDIES TO FUND OVERFISHING AND BIODIVERSITY DESTRUCTION

Joint statement of WWF, Oceana, MedReAct, and Environmental Justice Foundation

Over the past week, fuel has doubled in price. Transportation, agriculture, and fisheries appear to be among the most impacted sectors from this cost increase. In several EU countries, including Italy, Spain, France and Greece, fishers across the whole fishing sector are calling for the government to mitigate the fuel price increase so that their business can remain viable. To date, European fishing fleets have benefited from public sector’ subsidies (tax reduction) that cut fuel prices by 20-50%. The current situation raises the question of the business viability and profitability of some European fleets (e.g., trawlers). If their profitability is voided by a doubling in gas prices1, which are already heavily subsidized, it raises fundamental questions about their economic and ecological sustainability and whether they should be in business at all.

A recent analysis (in publication)- coordinated by WWF – demonstrates that the trawl sector is heavily dependent on “capacity enhancing” subsidies, (sensu Sumaila et al. (2019a), and not just for fuel. In the previous European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), the category of trawl vessels larger than 12 metres in length, received more than 70% of the total European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) budget provided to fishing vessels in the EU Mediterranean.

This week, a large portion of the fleet remained in port as they raised concerns for the future of their business. Governments and the European Commission are at work to develop aid packages. However, before considering additional aid we advocate that the state of the resources they exploit is carefully considered. The Mediterranean is one of the most overfished seas in the world, with 87%2 of the stocks being overfished in European Mediterranean waters. When taking a closer look at the target resources of the heavily subsidised trawl fleet, it is apparent that their efforts are concentrated on several overfished stocks. For example3: in the French and Spanish Western Mediterranean hake is currently fished at a rate which is nearly 6 times the sustainable level (F/Fmsy=5,58); blue and red shrimps in the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea are currently fished at a rate that is nearly 4 times the sustainable level (F/Fmsy=3,72); in the Adriatic, sardines are currently fished at a rate that is more than 3 times the sustainable level (F/Fmsy=3,23) while anchovies exploitation rate is nearly twice the sustainable level (F/Fmsy=1,69).

Stepping back from the current outcry, it is important to remember how countries have committed to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic (during which aid packages were approved for the fishing industry), reduce carbon emissions, and advance on the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, including the removal of harmful subsidies (SDG 14.6).

WTO negotiations on harmful subsidies, originally planned in January 2022 have now been postponed until June. In the EU, after months of negotiations, institutions agreed to strengthen the EU’s next Environment Action Programme yet they missed a critical opportunity to set an end date for public finance for fossil fuels and environmentally harmful activities, despite EU leaders having repeatedly stated their intention to phase such finance out. In the EU, over €52 billion of taxpayers’ money goes annually to fossil fuels alone.

When considering additional aid packages for the fishing industry, which may be certainly beneficial for certain fleets, we recommend that European Institutions and national governments refrain from the use of public funding for harmful subsidies. This includes those that lower the cost of fuel, support destructive fishing and overcapacity with vessel construction in addition to those that provide price support to keep market prices artificially high. These subsidies contribute to the exploitation of overfished stocks, and support harmful fishing practices causing the loss of marine habitats and species. We urge the European Union to champion the discussion at the WTO on harmful subsidies, with the intent to curb overfishing, biodiversity degradation, CO2 emissions, and to safeguard the livelihood of small fisheries.

We renew our concerns on the state of Mediterranean overfished stocks. The target set by the Common Fishery Policy to achieve MSY by 2020 has been largely missed and the European Commission should be applying the precautionary approach as stated by Article 2 of the CFP4. Fuel subsidies are adding pressure on fish stocks and marine ecosystems by funding vessels which would not be sustained otherwise. Instead the precautionary approach would require a substantial decrease of the fishing effort and fleet capacity5 through measures aimed at the recovery of the once rich marine biodiversity of the Mediterranean region.

1 For example: in Italy subsidized fuel went from € 0,4 to 0.96 in the last year

2 The State of Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries, GFCM 2020

3 Data from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) stock assessment database and FAO-GFCM SOMFI 2020.

4 Article 2(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy.

5    https://www.wwfmmi.org/newsroom/latest_news/?uNewsID=5434466

Spain falls short in protecting Mediterranean marine ecosystems

15th December  – Yesterday, Spain introduced new temporary and permanent fishing closures within the framework of the Multiannual Management Plan for Demersal Fisheries in the Mediterranean, to contribute to the recovery of the main demersal fish stocks.

However, according to Fundación ENT and MedReAct, the new closures are insufficient and must be urgently strengthened. Spain must instead promote the establishment of larger areas permanently closed to fishing and located in sites with greater ecological value.

Most of the newly introduced closures are too small, badly placed and do not provide permanent protection, which is the only measure that allows a real recovery of the marine ecosystem. Consequently, they will not contribute significantly to improving the state of fish stocks. Therefore, Fundación ENT and MedReAct urge Spain to take urgent measures to reinforce the current measure, without wasting the potential that fishing closures can have for marine recovery.

According to FAO, the Mediterranean Sea is the region of the world with the highest rate of overfishing. While this overexploitation continues, the destructive impact of fishing gears  has seriously damaged the marine ecosystems and the fish populations that depend on it.

Yet, the situation can be reversed if appropriate measures are taken.One with the greatest potential is the establishment of  marine recovery areas, where fishing activities are not allowed and where the ecosystem can flourish while fish populations and habitats recover.

Hundreds of permanent closed areas have been created worldwide. The Mediterranean is no exception and has some successful examples, such as the Jabuka / Pomo Pit Fisheries Restricted Area  (FRA) in the central Adriatic Sea.

“Permanent closures are an essential tool for marine recovery” says Miquel Ortega, marine coordinator of ​​Fundación ENT. “They contribute to objectives of the EU biodiversity strategy 2030, which stipulates that 30% of the EU marine waters must be protected, 10% of which with strict protection. What Spain has just introduced falls short of these objectives. Spain must prioritize the long-term protection of marine areas with the highest ecological value, such as those found in the  Ebro Delta.”

For more information see here.

France, Spain and Italy must stop playing Russian roulette with their Mediterranean fisheries, and instead abide by EU law they committed to

Brussels – Ahead of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AgriFish) on 12 and 13 December 2021, MedReAct, Ecologistas en Acción, Legambiente, Fundació ENT, Oceana, Seas At Risk, SNPN, and WWF are extremely concerned that France, Spain and Italy are playing political games that risk burying all hopes to save Western Mediterranean fisheries. 

The Western Mediterranean is plagued by unacceptable overfishing – 2.71 times higher than sustainable levels, and well-above the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) limit. The crisis can only be solved by following science and adopting drastic measures to tackle overfishing and protect key habitats that support fish stock recovery. This requires several combined actions:  fishing effort reduction paired with properly allocated catch limits; improved selectivity measures to stop catching juvenile fish (such as grids, T90 and bigger mesh size of the cod end); and spatial measures, namely the creation of permanent fisheries closures to protect sensitive habitats like nurseries and spawning grounds of fish stocks. Overall, a clear plan for a transition of the trawling sector is needed.

The NGOs provided the following statement: “In 2019, Spain, France and Italy committed to deliver sustainable fisheries in the Western Mediterranean by 2025, delaying by five years the sustainability obligation set by the CFP for 2020. Today, scientists are raising the alarm: none of the 2022 management scenarios evaluated will end overfishing by 2025 unless those same countries adopt drastic reductions in fishing effort. To prevent France, Italy and Spain from continuing to jeopardize the future of Mediterranean fisheries and the thousands of EU citizens that rely on it for their livelihoods, we call on the European Commission to act with emergency measures, before it’s too late”. 

NGOs are sensitive to the potential socio-economic impact of these measures. Implementation at national level should include transition support plans, with clear incentives for best environmental and social practices (as requested by Article 17 of the CFP). These plans should be attached to the implementation of the Western Mediterranean Multiannual plan (MAP), contributing to a modern management plan that adopts bio-economic tools in the decision-making processes to minimize the socio-economic impact while meeting the MAP’s objectives.

The “Landing obligation” introduced by the CFP has not been enforced, selectivity measures have not been adopted, too few and too small nursery areas have been closed to fishing, and fishing effort is still too high. This is stated not only by environmental groups, but by scientists too, including the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), the fisheries scientific body of the European Commission. 

Time is ticking and fish stock collapse may soon become a stark reality in the Mediterranean. In certain areas, European hake is fished at more than 8 times the sustainable levels, red mullet and blue and red shrimp over 6 times, resulting in catches shrinking and fishers being pushed into economic turmoil. 

The 2021 December AgriFish EU Council is the last opportunity to show political leadership by adhering to the Western Mediterranean Multiannual Plan adopted in 2019. 

It would have been a difficult moment if we did not know what to do. But proven solutions exist: drastic fishing effort reduction combined with enforcement, wide-scale adoption of selectivity, and the introduction of a larger network of fisheries closures, coupled with transitional support to coastal communities. 

France, Spain and Italy cannot ignore science any longer, undermine the credibility of the CFP and of the EU, and drive Western Mediterranean fish stocks, and the future of the fishing communities that rely on them, to a disastrous collapse. 

Italian version: Francia, Spagna e Italia smettano di giocare alla roulette russa con le attività di pesca nel Mediterraneo e rispettino i loro impegni

French version: Plutôt que de jouer à la roulette russe avec leurs pêcheries méditerranéennes, l’Espagne la France et l’Italie feraient bien mieux de respecter la réglementation européenne à l’adoption de laquelle elles ont contribué

Spanish version: Francia, España e Italia deben dejar de jugar a la ruleta rusa con las pesquerías mediterráneas y cumplir con la legislación de la UE con la que se comprometieron

The EU undermines scientific advice at the GFCM annual session.

November 6th, 2021. MedReact  express its deepest concerns with the European Union position at the GFCM 44th session which has undermined the GFCM Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) advice on the Fisheries Restricted Area proposals for the Ebro Delta Margin (EDM FRA) and Palmahim disturbance off the coast of Israel. 

The EU representative repeatedly challenged the SAC advice, claiming first that more technical information on the EDM FRA proposal was needed, and secondly explicitly requesting the deletion of any reference to SAC endorsement of both FRA proposals, from the final report of the meeting .

The position of the EU  is extremely disappointing considering in particular that SAC advice issued last July “welcomed the work done on the Ebro delta margin FRA proposal (Appendix 17) and considered that it was comprehensive, technically sound, and provided useful information to improve the spatial management of fisheries in the area.”

MedReact consider that the position of the EU sets a dangerous precedent  and that –  by delegitimising SAC advice – jeopardises the adoption of sound fisheries and conservation measures based on scientific advice.

 Stati Generali della pesca a Catania: Per salvare la pesca del Mediterraneo bisogna prima ricostituire gli stock ittici e risanare gli ecosistemi marini

Roma, 26 ottobre 2021 – Mentre a Catania negli Stati Generali della Pesca del 26 e 27 ottobre il Ministero delle politiche agricole alimentari e forestali e le associazioni di settore discutono sul futuro della pesca italiana, il nostro mare registra tassi di sovra-sfruttamento delle risorse ittiche tra i più alti al mondo.  

Solo in Adriatico lo sforzo di pesca per la pesca a strascico dovrebbe essere ridotto del 60% per raggiungere la soglia di sostenibilità prevista della Politica Comune della Pesca. 

Per il Mediterraneo nordoccidentale, invece, l’Unione europea ha introdotto dal 2020 una progressiva riduzione del 40% della pesca a strascico di Italia, Francia e Spagna entro il 2025. 

Misure che pur essendo osteggiate dal settore della pesca professionale, sono però di vitale importanza per frenare la pressione sulle risorse marine, soprattutto quelle di particolare interesse commerciale.

Il degrado degli ecosistemi marini e l’eccessivo sfruttamento delle risorse ittiche è una preoccupazione crescente nel Mediterraneo. Basti pensare che il 75% degli stock ittici sono pescati ben oltre i livelli di sostenibilità, e la pesca causa un impoverimento del 93% della biodiversità marina (IUCN, 2020). 

“Auspichiamo che gli Stati Generali della Pesca siano un’occasione per affrontare la questione centrale della pesca eccessiva che sta minando ed esaurendo le risorse da cui dipende, e per proporre alternative concrete per la loro tutela” – hanno dichiarato i rappresentanti di Legambiente, MedReAct, Marevivo e WWF. 

 È necessario trovare un equilibrio tra la salvaguardia delle risorse ittiche, la conservazione degli ecosistemi marini e la sostenibilità socio-economica della pesca. 

In una prospettiva di lungo termine riteniamo che sia di fondamentale importanza garantire il raggiungimento degli obiettivi della strategia europea sulla biodiversità per il 2030, in particolare per quanto riguarda la protezione del 30% delle acque europee, di cui il 10% protetto in modo rigoroso.

“Ci auguriamo vivamente che a Catania si affrontino questi temi cruciali – concludono le associazioni – e che si decida seriamente di invertire la rotta in un confronto allargato anche alle organizzazioni impegnate a tutelare il futuro del Mediterraneo e delle sue risorse”. 

MEDREACT and WWF call on France, Italy and Spain to respect their obligation to reduce overfishing in the Western Mediterranean

July 17th, 2021 – The EU Multi-annual management plan (MAP) for demersal stocks in the Western Mediterranean Sea (West Med MAP)[1] adopted in 2019, is the first multi-annual management plan implemented in the Mediterranean to deliver the Common Fisheries Policies objectives. 

The goal of West Med MAP is to achieve the sustainable exploitation of key demersal stocks – notably hake, red mullet, nephrops and shrimps – through the reduction of 40% of fishing effort of the bottom-trawling fleet by 2025, combined with the creation of closed areas to protect juvenile fish and spawners by July 17th, 2021. Furthermore the MAP is set to implement the ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management, in order to ensure that the negative impact of fishing activities on the marine ecosystem is minimised.

The latest report from the European Commission[2] shows that in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the fishing mortality indicator ratio is still around 2.1, more than twice above sustainable levels, and that despite some slight recent improvements the overfishing situation continues to be worrying.

In 2020, a 10% effort reduction (= number of fishing days) was agreed under the MAP. However, when the European Commission proposed a 15% reduction in fishing effort for 2021, France, Italy and Spain rejected it. This led to a compromise solution where Italy agreed to a 10% effort reduction, while a 7.5% effort reduction was agreed for Spain and France, integrated with complementary measures in the form of spatial measures (additional closures to trawling), and selectivity measures in Spain[3].  

According to the above decision, taken at the EU AgriFish Council in December 2020, Spain should have tested and proposed additional selectivity measures for the entire trawl fleet in the West Med MAP. Plus, France, Italy and Spain should have identified new closures to protect nursery areas and spawning grounds for the most over-exploited species, in particular hake.

It is now time – the 17th of July – for France, Italy and Spain to fully implement their obligation by protecting nurseries and spawning areas of overexploited fish stocks.   It is now time for stakeholders to be informed about what new closures will be established, and about what selectivity measures were tested and will be adopted. MedReAct and WWF urge France, Italy and Spain to comply with this key deadline and share the results of the selectivity tests, given the urgency to implement actions needed for a fast recovery of overexploited stocks in the Western Mediterranean.


[1] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019R1022

[2] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM:2021:279:FIN

[3] https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-5415-2021-REV-1/en/pdf  

Giornata Mondiale degli Squali: Mediterraneo ad alto rischio estinzione per squali e razze. Alcune misure di tutela esistono ma sono poco conosciute.

L’ INDAGINE E LE RACCOMANDAZIONI DI MEDREACT

Roma 14 Luglio 2021 – Il 40% delle specie di squali e razze del Mediterraneo sono minacciate di estinzione. Nell’ultimo mezzo secolo, 13 specie si sono estinte localmente, principalmente nel Mediterraneo occidentale e nel Mare Adriatico. La colpa è della pesca eccessiva nel Mediterraneo, tra i mari più sfruttati al mondo, e della perdita di habitat. Ad oggi, per 24 specie di squali e razze del Mediterraneo vige il divieto di cattura e vendita, mentre per altre 9 specie è richiesta la registrazione delle catture e dei rigetti in mare. Nonostante l’obbligo per gli Stati mediterranei di segnalare le catture anche accidentali alla Commissione Generale per la Pesca del mediterraneo (CGPM), la trasmissione di dati rimane sostanzialmente inadeguata. 

Proprio per valutare l’efficacia delle misure esistenti, MedReAct ha condotto nel 2018 e nel 2020 una indagine nei porti italiani del Mar Adriatico, Tirreno e Ionio rilevando casi di sbarco e la vendita di specie protette di squali e razze. L’indagine ha anche rivelato una generale mancanza di consapevolezza delle misure di conservazione da parte degli operatori dei mercati ittici e dei pescatori. Questo contribuisce agli sbarchi e alla vendita di squali e razze strettamente protetti, che, solo nel periodo preso in esame, hanno riguardato specie come lo smeriglio, lo squalo elefante, il pesce porco, la razza bavosa, il diavolo di mare, la razza bianca e lo squalo mako. Inoltre, da un confronto tra i dati riportati dall’Italia alla CGPM con quelli emersi dall’indagine di MedReAct emerge che molte catture non vengono segnalate.

Per questi motivi, MedReAct chiede maggiore attenzione nell’ attuazione delle misure di tutela che andrebbero sostenute con iniziative di sensibilizzazione dei pescatori e degli operatori dei mercati ittici, e un maggior rigore nella trasmissione dei dati sulle catture alla Ue e alla CGPM. 

“Si tratta di misure urgenti da attuare il prima possibile” ha detto Vittoria Gnetti di MedReAct. “Temporeggiare ancora nell’applicazione rigorosa delle misure di conservazione degli squali e delle razze significa andare incontro alla totale estinzione di queste specie. Sarebbe un danno molto grave non solo per le specie in questione ma anche per l’intera biodiversità marina del Mediterraneo già messa a dura prova da decenni di pesca eccessiva”.

Qui un infografica che riassume la situazione di squali e razze in Mediterraneo.

Click here for the English translation of the press release: “Shark Awareness Day: High risk of extinction for sharks and rays.

Here’s an infographic that looks at the conservation status of sharks and rays in the Mediterranean Sea.

Biodiversità marina dell’Adriatico a rischio

MedReAct e Legambiente: “Bene l’interrogazione parlamentare di Muroni e Lombardo al Ministro Patuanelli”

Roma, 24 giugno 2021 – È stata presentata alla Camera dall’On Rossella Muroni e dall’On. Antonio Lombardo, del gruppo misto Facciamo ECO, l’interrogazione parlamentare che sollecita il Ministro delle Politiche agricole alimentari e forestali, Stefano Patuanelli, ad attivarsi per l’istituzione di una Zona di Restrizione alla Pesca (Fisheries Restricted Area, FRA) nel Canale di Otranto

Nonostante le risorse marine dell’Adriatico siano in drammatico e costante declino a causa dell’eccessivo impatto della pesca, questa zona ospita ancora importanti aree di riproduzione ed accrescimento di specie commerciali come il gambero rosa, il nasello, lo scampo, il gambero rosso, il gattuccio boccanera e una varietà di habitat sensibili, come i coralli bianchi e gli ormai rari giardini di corallo bambù, considerati tra i più importanti di tutto il Mediterraneo centrale.

“Secondo uno studio del 2018, richiamato in un articolo de La Nuova Ecologia, l’Italia si piazza al quarto posto tra le flotte pescherecce che esercitano lo sforzo di pesca maggiore proprio nell’Adriatico, il bacino più sfruttato al mondo”, ha dichiarato Federica Barbera, dell’Ufficio aree protette e biodiversità di Legambiente. “Dobbiamo, quindi, invertite la rotta e fermare il sovra sfruttamento realizzando aree protette che tutelino non solo la l’ecosistema marino ma anche il futuro a lungo termine della pesca professionale, allineandoci così alle strategie nazionali e internazionali per fermare la perdita di biodiversità entro il 2030”.

Proprio per contrastare l’impoverimento dell’Adriatico, la Commissione Generale per la Pesca nel Mediterraneo (CGPM) ha istituito nel 2017, una Zona di Restrizione alla Pesca (Fisheries Restricted Area, FRA) nella Fossa di Pomo, in Mar Adriatico. Da allora si è registrata una ripresa sorprendente della biomassa di scampi e naselli e il ritorno di specie vulnerabili come gli squali, al punto che la FRA della Fossa di Pomo è diventata un caso di buona pratica a livello internazionale, portato ad esempio dall’One Planet Summit, organizzato dal presidente Macron lo scorso gennaio.

L’efficacia di questa misura suggerirebbe quindi di replicarla anche in altre zone vulnerabili, come nel Canale di Otranto. Nel 2018, a seguito della concertazione con le marinerie locali, fu presentata una proposta per istituire in questa zona la seconda FRA dell’Adriatico, sulla quale il Ministero delle Politiche Agricole ha posto il veto, nonostante l’appello rivolto al governo di 125 rappresentanti della comunità scientifica italiana. 

L’ On. Muroni e l’On. Lombardo nella loro interrogazione parlamentare hanno dunque chiesto al ministro «se è a conoscenza delle cause che stanno impedendo l’istituzione della FRA di Otranto e se non intenda intervenire urgentemente, rimuovendo tali impedimenti, in modo che l’Italia entro il 2021 possa rispettare gli impegni assunti nell’ambito della CGPM e contribuire così al risanamento delle risorse in Adriatico».

“Ci auguriamo che il ministro Patuanelli possa ascoltare l’appello di tanti scienziati rimuovendo il veto dell’Italia e sostenendo attivamente l’istituzione della FRA del Canale di Otranto, per promuovere il recupero di risorse sovrasfruttate, la tutela di specie sensibili e il futuro della pesca”, ha dichiarato Domitilla Senni di MedReAct.

Mediterranean Recovery Action

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