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.”

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Alla Conferenza sugli Oceani in corso in questi giorni a Malta, l’Unione Europea, per bocca del Commissario Vella, e la Croazia hanno presentato, tra le misure per la protezione del Mediterraneo, l’istituzione di una FRA (Fishery Restricted Area) nella Fossa di Pomo (un’area che si estende per circa 2700 Km  tra l’Italia e la Croazia) con l’obiettivo di proteggere gli stock ittici in un habitat riconosciuto come essenziale per la riproduzione di molte specie marine. L’istituzione della FRA sarà ufficializzata durante la Commissione Generale per la Pesca del Mediterraneo  (CGPM) che si svolgerà dal 16 al 19 ottobre in Montenegro.

La proposta della FRA è stata presentata da MedReAct e dall’alleanza internazionale “Adriatic Recovery Project” costituitasi, quest’ultima, neanche un anno fa proprio per portare avanti azioni in difesa del mare Adriatico.

“Un grande risultato che da ragione al nostro impegno e al nostro lavoro e un plauso a Karmenu Vella, Commissario Europeo alla Pesca ”, dichiara con  soddisfazione Domitilla Senni  di MedReAct, che coordina l’alleanza internazionale. “L’UE ha evidentemente capito che non possiamo più tergiversare nella difesa del Mediterraneo e ha sposato la  chiusura alla pesca a strascico  della Fossa di Pomo,  essendo questa un’area fondamentale per la riproduzione di alcune delle specie commerciali più importanti, come gli scampi e i naselli.”

Se non vogliamo che il  mare Mediterraneo, e in particolare l’Adriatico, diventi un deserto mettendo a repentaglio la biodiversità ma anche tutto un sistema economico che da anni vive sulle risorse marine, c’è urgente bisogno di misure di protezione. La chiusura della Fossa di Pomo deve essere considerata come il primo passo verso una strategia di protezione più ampia.

“Siamo felici  – conclude Domittilla Senni – che la politica europea ne abbia finalmente preso atto”.

21 NGOs and groups call on the EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella to protect the Jabuka/Pomo Pit from demersal fisheries.



Mr Karmenu Vella                                                                                         July 31st, 2017

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

European Commission 200, Rue de la Loi, B-1049 Brussels

Subject: Urgent call for a Fisheries Restricted Area in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit closed to demersal fisheries.

Dear Commissioner Vella,

the Jabuka/Pomo Pit, in the central Adriatic Sea, is a site of unique productivity due to the physical processes influencing the dynamics of water circulation and nutrient delivery to this area. In particular, the Pit hosts the most important Adriatic nurseries for European hake, Norway lobster and others valuable species, such as horned octopus and monkfish, making it a critical area for the recovery and sustainability of these stocks and the fisheries that depend on them. The Jabuka/Pomo Pit is also a key area for vulnerable species of cetaceans and sea turtles and a suite of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs).

Last May the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), endorsed a proposal for the establishment of a Fisheries Restricted Area (FRA) in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit, with a core area closed to demersal fisheries and a surrounding buffer area with limited and monitored fishing [1].

The proposed  FRA covers the waters closed to trawling through a bilateral agreement between Italy and Croatia in 2015, which took into account the advice of AdriaMed scientists. The Pit was then re-opened to trawling in 2016 due to pressure from the Italian fishing sector, depriving the area and its nursery and spawning grounds from the much needed protection. Recently, following the growing support for a FRA in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit, Croatia and Italy agreed to reintroduce a fishing closure from the September 1st 2017. Because of their critical and irreplaceable importance to the Adriatic broader marine ecosystems and ecosystem services, the Pit Essential Fish Habitats deserve lasting conservation measures to ensure that national political shifts do not reverse established protection, as it was the case in 2016.

We, the undersigned organizations and groups, call on you to propose the establishment of a Jabuka/Pomo Pit FRA closed to demersal and recreational fisheries at the next GFCM Conference (Montenegro, 16-20 October 2017).

A proposal by the EU following scientific advice, would be fully consistent with the CFP. A FRA in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit would also create a level playing field in the Adriatic by extending the current fishing ban introduced in area by Croatia, to other fleets in the region. Based on scientific information available to date, anything short of a FRA closing the Pit to demersal fisheries is unlikely to be effective in rebuilding Adriatic depleted stocks and would fell short of the MedFish4Ever Declaration objective to recover fisheries in the region.

We therefore strongly urge you to promote a FRA in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit that:

  • Introduces a ban on demersal fisheries including towed nets, bottom set nets, bottom and mid-water longlines and recreational fishing.
  • Defines the waters closed to demersal and recreational fishing according to the proposed FRA core area endorsed by the SAC in May 2017.
  • Includes a buffer area where fishing activities will be restricted and only allowed to authorized fishing vessels.
  • Provides mechanisms for monitoring the status of the EFHs and VMEs in the area.
  • Strengthen MCS measures to ensure full compliance.

Yours faithfully,

20000 Milja– 20.000 Leagues Marine Explorers Society.

Adriatic Recovery Project


Archipelagos Institute of Marine Marine Conservation


CASA – Clean Adriatic Sea Alliance

Fundaciò ENT




MEDASSET – Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles

MedCEM – Mediterranean Center for Environment Monitoring


New Economics Foudation




Seas at Risk

Sunce – Association for Nature, Environment and Sustainable Development

Vivamar – Society for the Sustainable Development for the Sea

Zdravi Grad

[1]The Scientific Advisory  Committee  requested  the Commission to consider the establishment of a new GFCM FRA in the central Adriatic Jabuka/Pomo Pit, on the basis of the technical elements and coordinates provided in the FRA proposal”. Nineteenth session of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) Ljubljana, Slovenia, 16-19 May 2017.

NGOs_letter_Vella_Jabuka-Pomo FINAL





15 July 2017. On the eve of the EU Fisheries Council (Bruxelles, 17 July 2017), which will examine the latest status of Mediterranean fisheries[1], the Adriatic Recovery Project calls upon Commissioner Vella and Croatia to promote the establishement of an international Fisheries Restricted Area (FRA) in the Central Adriatic Jabuka/Pomo Pit, closed to all demersal fisheries, such as trawling and longliners.

Last May the Scientific Committee (SAC) of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), endorsed the Adriatic Recovery Project’s proposal for the establishment of a FRA closed to all demersal fisheries in the Pomo/Jabuka Pit, and submitted it to the next Conference of the GFCM (Montenegro, 16-20 October 2017). This measure would allow for the protection of the most important nursery and spawning grounds of Adriatic overexploited species, such as European hake and Norway lobster. In addition, the establishment of a FRA closed to demersal fisheries, would create a level playing field in the area by extending the fishing ban, introduced last May by Croatia, to all Mediterranean fleets.

“We consider the establishment of the Jabuka/Pomo Pit FRA, closed to all demersal fisheries, the first testing ground for the European Commission willingness to implement the Med4Fish Declaration, adopted last March in Malta. We now look at the Commission to propose the establishment of the FRA at the GFCM Conference, with measures based on SAC advice. Anything else short of a full ban on demersal fisheries will be considered a poor compromise and will not provide the full protection needed for the critical habitats and species present in the area ” – said Domitilla Senni from  MedReAct/Adriatic Recovery Project.

English version with map: CS_ 1307017 Jabuka-EN

Croatian version: CS Pomo 15.7.2017 HR

The Adriatic Recovery Project is an alliance of  NGOs and scientific institutions to  protect vulnerable marine ecosystems  and fish essential habitats of the Adriatic Sea. The Project is coordinated by MedReAct, in partnership with Legambiente, Marevivo, the Stanford University and the Marche Polytechnic University.

[1] Communication from the  Commission on the State of Play of the Common Fisheries Policy and Consultation on the Fishing Opportunities for 2018.



ADRIATICO DA SVELARE E DA SALVARE. Presentato ad Ancona il dossier dell’Adriatic Recovery Project sugli ecosistemi vulnerabili dell’Adriatico e sulle misure per la loro tutela .



Ancona 5 luglio 2017 – Solo nel 2014, 52.000 tartarughe catturate dallo strascico di cui 10.000 morte e, negli ultimi 50 anni, crollo del 94% dei grandi predatori. Tra questi alcune specie, come lo squalo angelo (Squatina squatina) o il grande squalo bianco (Carcharodon carcharias), una volta comuni nell’intero Adriatico, sono praticamente scomparsi. Stesso trend negativo per i mammiferi marini, delfini, foche, balene e per le tartarughe marine. Drastica anche la riduzione di habitat e specie strutturanti, come letti di ostriche, o foreste di pennatule, spugne, fondamentali per il recupero delle specie commerciali e non solo.

Questi sono solo alcuni dei dati contenuti nel dossier dal titolo “Adriatico da svelare”, presentato il 5 luglio ad Ancona a bordo del Palinuro, la nave scuola della Marina Italiana, da Carlo Cerrano del Politecnico delle Marche.

Durante l’incontro, al quale hanno partecipato anche Valeria Mancinelli, Sindaco di Ancona, Giuseppe Valentini, Comandante della nave Palinuro, Maria Rapini, segretario generale di Marevivo, e Domitilla Senni di MedReAct, sono state inoltre presentate le azioni dell’Adriatic Recovery Project per il recupero delle risorse marine dell’ Adriatico.

L’Adriatico ospita il 49% delle specie marine conosciute in Mediterraneo ma, insieme al Golfo di Gabes in Tunisia, è l’area del Mediterraneo dove si pratica con più intensità la pesca a strascico, particolarmente distruttiva per gli ecosistemi vulnerabili marini come i giardini di spugne e coralli, campi di pennatule e gorgonie, fondali a molluschi bivalvi e altre foreste di animali marini, canyon sottomarini e praterie di posidonia considerati habitat fondamentali per la salute del mare. Lo strascico può provocare anche un forte impatto sugli habitat considerati essenziali per le specie ittiche, ovvero quelle aree in cui le larve o i giovanili di specie commerciali si ritrovano con elevate abbondanze e densità (ad esempio la Fossa di Pomo in centro Adriatico).

Solo di recente la CGPM, Commissione Generale per la Pesca nel Mediterraneo (CGPM), l’organismo regionale che regolamenta la gestione e la conservazione delle risorse biologiche marine, ha avviato un processo per la loro identificazione e tutela anche attraverso l’istituzione di aree di restrizione alla pesca (Fisheries Restricted Areas, FRA).

Per questo lo scorso febbraio MedReAct, con il supporto scientifico del Politecnico delle Marche e dell’Università di Stanford, ha presentato al CGPM una proposta per l’istituzione di una nuova FRA nella Fossa di Pomo a tutela delle importanti nurseries e delle VMEs presenti nell’area La proposta ha stimolato un’iniziativa congiunta di Croazia e Italia per la chiusura alla pesca demersale di una zona della Fossa di Pomo dal 1 settembre 2017.

Decenni di malapesca hanno impoverito l’Adriatico, esaurito gli stock ittici, compromesso la struttura degli habitat di fondo e provocato la scomparsa di alcuni predatori, come lo squalo angelo – ha dichiarato Domitilla Senni di MedReAct – E’ ora di cambiare rotta attraverso una nuova misura di recupero del mare, anche attraverso il divieto allo strascico di fondo nelle zone più sensibili come la Fossa di Pomo e altre aree a rischio”.

In Adriatico esistono ancora tanti spunti di scoperta e riscoperta delle meraviglie del mare – spiega Maria Rapini, segretario generale di Marevivo – e proprio per tutelare la biodiversità che sussiste in queste acque, nonostante le pressioni dirette e indirette sull’intero sistema marino costiero, sono importanti ed urgenti le iniziative di ricerca, studio e sensibilizzazione come Adriatic Recovery Project”.

Scarica il dossier adriatico da svelare_web


World Oceans Day: “Mare Nostrum or Mare Mortum?” Why does Europe support the destruction of the Mediterranean Sea?


Large fish at risk of extinction, 39 fish stocks overexploited, catches of hake 5 times over sustainable limits, high degree of discards and bycatch, desertification of the seabed, high energy costs. All consequences of the industrial fisheries that receive the largest part of EU subsidies.

7 June 2017 – While the world celebrates Oceans Day on the 8th of June, MedReAct calls the attention of the European Union to the destructive impact of trawling in the Mediterranean and to the paradox at the heart of the EU’s fishing system: “Why subsidies are largely given to those who are responsible for the destruction of marine ecosystems and depleation of vulnerable species? Isn’t it time to change course?”

A new study published by Nature Ecology & Evolution confirms the risk of extinction in Europe for various large fish species, as well as for sharks and rays, due to their slow maturation and low birth rates and overfishing by professional and sport fishermen. The same study reveals that the percentage of overexploited fish stocks in the Mediterranean is significantly higher than that in the North Atlantic. The researchers confirmed that all of the assessed 39 Mediterranean fish stocks were found to be overexploited, with the hake in lead position, being fished at 5 times sustainable levels. The hake is the demersal species of highest commercial value, fished primarily by bottom trawlers and to a lesser extent by longliners.

But the impact of trawling, the most widespread industrial fishing practice in the Mediterranean, isn’t limited to the depletion of hake. In the past 30 years this sector of the industry has grown exponentially and, because of declines in the resource, has shifted increasingly to deeper waters in the hunt for new valuable stocks, such as deep water shrimps, creating irreversible changes to the seabed. In other instances it has encroached into forbidden coastal areas, in conflict with small-scale artisanal fisheries.

It is calculated that in 2014 alone trawling by the Italian fleet  was responsible for accidental catches of 20.000 sea turtles, most of which died as a result of suffocation or injury. But not only. The nets that are dragged along the sea bed collect everything in their way: fish, corals, sponges and other bottom-dwelling species. The sediments that are continually exposed to this practice have been found to be lacking the organic matter that constitutes a food source for benthic organisms, thus risking to turn the seabeds into marine deserts.

Trawling is a destructive form of fishing which is empoverishing our sea and which also has high energy costs. The European Union has calculated that for every tonne of fish captured, bottom trawlers of 24-40 metres consume 4,258 litres of fuel, as compared to 169 litres consumed by a fishing vessel of the same size using purse seines. And yet, it is those same bottom trawlers that benefit most from EU fisheries contributions, from fuel subsidies to funds for modernising the vessels and for compensating fishermen for the temporary suspension of fishing activities which as of today has produced no tangible result for stock recovery.

To celebrate World Oceans Day, the EU should reconsider its use of European tax-payers money to finance the destruction of the Mediterranean, so that Mare Nostrum doesn’t become Mare Mortum.

Images from MedReAct/Francesco Cabras:

Mediterranean Recovery Action

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