16 October 2017 – More than 200 scientists from universities and research institutes around the world have signed an appeal for the protection of the Jabuka/Pomo Pit, situated in the central Adriatic between Italy and Croatia.

On the eve of the 41st session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in Montenegro, where a proposal to establish a Fisheries Restricted Area (FRA) – i.e. an area closed to demersal fisheries – presented by MedReAct and the Adriatic Recovery Project will be examined, over 200 researchers have appealed to the GFCM to call for the permanent closure of the Jabuka/Pomo Pit to demersal fisheries. The Jabuka/Pomo, with a maximum depth of 200-260 metres, contains unique geomorphological and oceanographic features. It is considered one of the most important Essential Fish Habitats of the Adriatic, hosting spawning areas and nursery of commercially important species such as hake and Norway lobster. Overfishing, especially by bottom-trawling, has caused the decline of fish stocks and threatens their essential habitats as those found in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit.

“I signed it because we should try to recover some of the marine biodiversity we used to have,” declared Daniel Pauly, professor of fisheries at the University of British Columbia’s Fishery Centre in Canada, well known for his studies on the impact of fisheries on the marine environment.

“Protection from bottom trawling is an urgent necessity,” said Callum Roberts, professor and oceanographer at the University of York. “Without it, the Adriatic will continue its long slide towards fisheries irrelevance.”

Whereas in the terrestrial environment woods and forests guarantee the maintenance of biodiversity, in the sea it is the structural and functional integrity of the sea beds that permits resiliency to exploitation,” said Carlo Cerrano of the Department of Life Sciences and Environment at the Marche Polytechnic University. “In the long term, without healthy habitat, no species can survive. Bottom trawling is not sustainable.”

“As a researcher familiar with the impact of bottom trawling on benthic ecosystems, and knowing well the ecological vulnerability of the Adriatic Sea and in particular of its deepest zones,” declared Antonio Pusceddu, professor in the Department of Life Sciences and Environment at the University of Cagliari, “I firmly believe that preserving the Jabuka/Pomo Pit should be a priority for the conservation of biodiversity and management of resources of the Adriatic Sea.”

In addition to the numerous adhesions from the scientific community, the creation of a FRA in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit has received the support of the European Union which included it among the EU’s commitments for ocean conservation during the Our Ocean conference held in Malta last 5-6 October. All that it is needed now is for the FRA to be formally established by the GFCM.

“The creation of an FRA in a zone that for decades has been considered a priority for the
conservation of its resources and its vulnerable ecosystems,” concluded Domitilla Senni of MedReAct and coordinator of the Adriatic Recovery Project, “would constitute a first concrete step for the recovery of the Adriatic and the future of its fisheries.”

Download the Press release in English

Download the Press release in Italian

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