Tag Archives: overfishing

Is Mediterranean hake on the verge of collapse?

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The Mediterranean is probably one of the most overfished sea of the Planet, well beyond EU overfishing rates in the Atlantic or in the Baltic Sea. Between 1994 and 2014, Mediterranean catches declined from 1.020.000 to 800.000 tons, an impressive 20% reduction in only 20 years.

All over the Mediterranean, the status of fish stocks is alarming:

  • On average, 85% of assessed stocks are overexploited [1] (96% of EU stocks and 91% for stocks shared with non EU countries [2]).
  • The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and the EU Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) regularly assess the status of fish stocks in the Med. Out of 440 assessments published between 2007 and 2015, as much as 400 revealed fishing exploitation rates well beyond sustainable levels, 128 of which with rates five times higher than biologically sustainable limits.

Overfishing is certainly not the only crisis facing the Mediterranean area, however what is at stake should not be overlooked: Mediterranean fisheries represent 250.000 direct jobs and 500.000 indirect jobs and they constitute an essential income for a region striving through devastating economic and political crisis.

Hake: on the verge of collapse after decades of rampant overfishing

Hake is a key commercial species in Mediterranean fisheries and as such it attracts scientists attention, resulting in 74 stock assessments between 2007 and 2015. All these assessments converge on the same result: with the exception of Morocco, hake is overfished all around the Med in proportions that often goes beyond imagination.

Area                             

Hake overfishing rate (2013-2015)

Central-Northern Adriatic, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia

1-4

Balearic Islands, South-East of Italy, Southern Adriatic, South of Italy

4-8

Northern Spain, Eastern and Northern Corsica, Sardinia

8-12

Gulf of Lion

16

Hake economic value represents 8% of the total Mediterranean landings. Its average first sale price (what is paid to the fisherman) is about 7 €/kg [3]. This accounts for the systematic overfishing which, year after year and for decades, is leading the stocks on the verge of collapse.

Its spatial distribution covers semi coastal areas of the Northern Mediterranean basin, from Gibraltar to the Adriatic and Turkey. It is therefore mostly targeted by EU trawlers from Italy, France, Spain, Greece and Croatia. These countries should be held responsible for the poor state of hake and made accountable for its recovery. For decades, EU fishing power increased, creating rampant overcapacity fuelled by massive amounts of EU and national subsidies.

The short and long term challenges facing Mediterranean hake stocks

Very recently, the European Commission turned its attention to the dramatic state of Mediterranean fish stocks and initiated action for the adoption of several multiannual management plans (MAPs). However, a MAP takes about two years to negotiate by the EU and the process –for stocks targeted by the EU fleets in the region– could last until 2023-2025. Considering the poor state of hake it may be too late to prevent its collapse.

A dire example is hake fisheries in the Gulf of Lion by French and Spanish fleets, whose exploitation rate increased by 400% between 2007 and 2012 and it has not improved since. In 2016 the Commission urged France and Spain to propose immediate measures to cut fishing effort, but negotiations between these two countries failed. Now the burden rest with the European Commission which could implement emergency measures provided for by Article 12 of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, which enables to close a fishery for two consecutive periods of six months each, to prevent a stock from collapsing (a concrete possibility in the Gulf of Lion) [4]. Even though a one-year closure alone will not enable the stock to recover, it would give hake a break and send a strong political signal to Member states that it’s time to act.

In the Mediterranean, overfishing is compounded by the absence of political will to implement effective management measures. While decision-makers rely on short-term laisser-faire attitudes, year after year, the social, economic and environmental impacts of the fisheries crisis becomes heavier and heavier.

In March 2017, the European Commission will convene a Ministerial Conference in Malta to discuss and agree an action plan for Mediterranean fish stocks. However, if the Commission is serious about addressing this crisis, it needs to show leadership by confronting – as a matter of priority – the dire situation of European hake in the Gulf of Lion through the introduction of immediate emergency measures.

[1] FAO/GFCM. The state of Mediterranean and Black sea Fisheries (SoMFi 2016)

[2] Communication of the European Commission on fishing opportunities for 2016.

[3] 2016 Annual Economic Report on the EU fishing fleet (STECF 16/11).

[4] Emergency measures were applied in the past for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay and more recently, in 2014, for sea bass in the Channel.

Fossa di Pomo, ambientalisti: no alla pesca in una delle zone più vulnerabili dell’Adriatico

Legambiente, Marevivo, MedReAct e WWF: bene l’interrogazione di Realacci a Martina

greenreport.it – 13 ottobre 2016

fossa-di-pomo-320x234Ieri greenreport.it dava notizia di un’interrogazione parlamentare del presidente della commissione ambiente della Camera, Ermete Realacci, rivolta al ministro delle politiche agricole Martina dopo che il suo ministero aveva parlato di una possibile riapertura della pesca a strascico nella zona più importante per la tutela e il recupero degli stock ittici dell’Adriatico: la Fossa di Pomo. Parte della Fossa di Pomo era stata chiusa alla pesca nel 1998 grazie all’istituzione di una Zona di tutela biologica (Ztb), divieto sancito nuovamente nel 2009.

Già l’estate scorsa Legambiente, Marevivo, MedReAct e WWF avevano lanciato un appello internazionale a salvaguardia della Fossa di Pomo, «zona di importanza strategica per il futuro della pesca perché lì si trovano le aree di riproduzione (nursery) del nasello e degli scampi, più importanti di tutto l’Adriatico», ma secondo le associazioni ambientaliste «Il divieto di pesca non è stato applicato, lasciando che la pesca a strascico in particolare, continuasse indisturbata fino a luglio 2015. Lo scorso anno dopo anni di inadempienza, il Ministero  ha finalmente introdotto misure per  prevenire la pesca a strascico e tutelare le importantissime nursery della Fossa Pomo. Le misure in vigore potrebbero ora non essere rinnovate consentendo la riapertura della pesca a strascico già dal prossimo 16 ottobre a discapito del recupero di stock fortemente decimati dalla pesca eccessiva».

Infatti Realacci nella sua interrogazione parlamentare chiede al ministro «se non ritenga opportuno piuttosto applicare e finalmente rendere definitivo il divieto di pesca a strascico nell’area della Fossa di Pomo, dal momento che l’Adriatico centro-settentrionale è una delle zone più importanti per il settore della pesca nazionale, ove lo sfruttamento di nasello e scampi è ben oltre la soglia di sostenibilità e gli stock rischiano il collasso. Si chiede inoltre se il Ministro non intenda estendere il divieto di pesca anche ai palangari, le cui attività nella Fossa di Pomo sono fortemente aumentate dal luglio 2015 a danno dei riproduttori di nasello. Ed infine sulla base di quale criterio scientifico si giustifichi l’eventuale ripresa della pesca demersale nella più importante area di nursery di specie ad alto valore per il futuro della pesca in Adriatico».

Le associazioni ambientaliste sottolineano che «La mancata applicazione del divieto di strascico nella Ztb della Fossa di Pomo solleva interrogativi sulla responsabilità del ministero e degli organi di controllo. Sarebbe invece cruciale proteggere efficacemente questa area sia per la tutela della biodiversità che per affrontare l’attuale crisi delle risorse alieutiche del Mare Adriatico e del Mediterraneo, anche nell’ottica di un rinnovato slancio della cooperazione tra Italia e Croazia, premessa necessaria alla ricostruzione degli stock ittici dell’area».

Did you observe Jellyfish Blooms in the Mediterranean? Report it!

MedReAct’s member Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation is a partner of CIESM – The Mediterranean Science Commission JELLYWATCH program, which for the first time gathers baseline data on the frequency and extent of jellyfish outbreaks across the Mediterranean Sea.

The participation in this program enables an unbiased assessment of geographic and temporal scale of mass jellyfish events, allowing time trend analysis and short term forecasting of jellyfish bloom occurrence. The active contribution of the local communities across the Mediterranean, which provide us with information on jellyfish blooms, is an invaluable asset for the success of this monitoring effort.

If you did observed Jellyfish Blooms in the Mediterranean? Report it at medousa@archipelago.gr

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How do Jellyfish Blooms affect us?

In simple terms, jellyfish blooms are growing – and stresses caused by human activity such as overfishing are considered to be the most likely cause. Fisheries-based ecosystems are frequently overfished, and taking too many fish out of ecosystems creates ecological space for jellyfish to thrive, influencing both fisheries productivity but also tourism.

Joint NGO Statement

Joint NGO Statement to the “High Level Seminar on the state of stocks in the Mediterranean and on the CFP approach”

Catania, 9-10 February 2016

Sin títuloMediterranean Sea fish stocks are in a dramatic situation with 96% of European assessed stocks in the region reported as overexploited [1]. The reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) requires the EU to end overfishing by 2015 or at the latest by 2020 in order to ensure the recovery of fish stocks. To achieve this objective EU Mediterranean member states must address and reverse the political inaction that has characterized their fisheries management.

Considering that EU multiannual plans for the Mediterranean will only be adopted and implemented in the medium-term, immediate emergency and recovery measures are required.

On the occasion of the “High Level Seminar on the Status of the Stocks in the Mediterranean and on the CFP Approach”, Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, Fundació ENT, Greenpeace, Legambiente, Marevivo, MedReAct and Oceana call on the European Commission and Mediterranean EU member states to immediately adopt emergency measures to halt overfishing and recover stocks in the Mediterranean Sea, in order to prepare and introduce the following priority longer term actions:

  • Establish emergency measures and recovery plans for those EU stocks for which fishing mortality has reached unsustainable levels, such as for hake and small pelagic stocks;
  • Promote in the context of ICCAT a recovery plan for Mediterranean swordfish;
  • Set catch and effort limits based on the available scientific advice and ensure that exploitation rates are commensurate with recovering fish stock populations above MSY biomass levels;
  • Take appropriate measures to balance fishing capacity with the real fishing opportunities in order to stop overfishing by 2020 at the very latest;
  • Protect sensitive areas such as nurseries, spawning grounds and vulnerable marine ecosystems through spatial measures (no-take areas and marine reserves);
  • Strengthen control activities at sea and on land and implement dissuasive sanctions;
  • Establish or update the minimum conservation reference size (MCRS) for all EU commercial stocks, in line with the scientific advice and consistent with biological targets; and
  • Fully enforce the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) conditionality clause, according to which operators engaged in illegal activities would not have access to fisheries subsidies.

[1] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council Concerning a consultation on Fishing Opportunities for 2015 under the Common Fisheries Policy.

To download the pdf: Joint NGO Statement

MEDITERRANEAN FISH STOCKS ON THE BRINK

State of commercial fish stocks in the Mediterranean EU waters
State of commercial fish stocks in the Mediterranean EU waters

On the eve of the High Level Seminar on Mediterranean Fish Stocks (Catania, 9-10 February 2016), organized by the European Commission (EC), MedReAct warns that Mediterranean stocks are running out of time. While a number of EU stocks in Northern Europe begin to show recovery signs, scientific advice on the Mediterranean paints a far breaker picture.  Despite success stories like the partial recovery of bluefin tuna, in the Mediterranean stocks are largely overfished and/or in a bad state, in particular stocks exploited mainly or exclusively by the EU fleets. According to the EC, of all stocks assessed in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas:

  • 96% of the EU stocks are overfished, with an average ratio of current fishing three times higher than fishing at sustainable level. For stocks such as hake, red mullet, black bellied anglerfish and blue whiting, current fishing mortality rates have been more than six times higher than sustainability levels (MSY) [1].
  • 91% of stocks shared with Third countries are exploited well above MSY, with an average ratio of current fishing two times higher than fishing at MSY level.

Under the reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), fishing limits must be set at sustainable/MSY levels no later than 2020. To comply with the CFP and stop overfishing, scientists are calling for the average reduction of fishing effort in the Mediterranean between 50% and 60%. However, even this may not be sufficient.

A new study [2] by Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller, from the Sea Around Us Project, “reconstructed” fish catch levels utilizing data missing from official sources, such as from recreational fisheries, discards, and illegal fishing, and found that between 1950 and 2010, Mediterranean catches were 50% higher than reported by FAO and are declining more strongly since the 1990s.

For some of the Mediterranean countries such as Italy, the study estimates that in the same time period “the total catch was 2.6 times the data presented by FAO” and that illegal unreported fishing represented 54% of all catches. For France, Mediterranean catches were calculated more than twice the official data, whereas for Greece the reconstructed catches were 57% larger than the nationally reported data for the same time period.

“This dramatic situation calls for immediate measures to combat illegal fishing, reduce fishing effort, introduce recovery plans for those species most at risk and close nursery and spawning areas to allow the sea to recover” said Domitilla Senni from MedReAct, an environmental organisation that promotes actions for the recovery of Mediterranean marine biodiversity.

[1] Maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is the largest average yield, or catch, that can theoretically be taken from a species’ stock under constant environmental conditions without having an impact on the long-term stability of the population.

[2] Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining. Daniel Pauly & Dirk Zeller. January 2016.

Documentary about co-management fisheries in Catalonia

Lydia Chaparro, from our partner organization Fundació ENT, has taken part in a TV documentary (Latituds program) on overfishing and co-management plans in the Mediterranean.

In the Catalonia region, all major stakeholders: fishermen, scientists, local government and NGOs, have been working together to establish the process and rules for the sustainable management of three species in a given area (Mediterranean sandeel in Maresme, shrimp in Palamós and hake in Roses) with the aim to ensure environmental, social, and economic benefits in the long term.

Making the Common Fisheries Policy a reality means ending overfishing

Article from MedReAct at The Parliament Magazine Issue 421.

TheParliament_ENTIn a special issue of The Parliament Magazine dedicated to fisheries policy, together with the participation of some leading members of the Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament, like Alain Cadec, Linnéa Engström, Gabriel Mato and Renata Briano, MedReAct/ENT has written an article that highlights the binding commitment of the Common Fisheries Policy to end overfishing. This is a first step for restoring fish stocks, delivery a healthy marine environment, profitable fisheries, and viable coastal communities.

The article also highlights the importance of putting in place multi-annual plans (MAPs) for the different regions and fisheries in the EU, with the aim to move beyond the short-term decision-making for each year’s fishing limits, and achieve sustainable fishing for the long-term. As well as the need to establish fishing opportunities not exceeding scientific advice.