The complexity of the Mediterranean multispecies fisheries coupled with traditional management tools based on technical measures and fishing capacity control, have mostly failed to ensure the long-term viability of fish populations or the conservation of important habitats. Evidence shows that no-take areas have produced rapid and long-lasting recovery of many commercially important species. They have also benefitted surrounding fisheries through spillover and export of offspring from protected stock. In this context, fish stock recovery areas can function as a hedge against the deep rooted limitations of traditional fisheries management and contribute to the recovery of the Mediterranean depleted stocks, as well as setting positive management precedents.
The nature and extent of IUU fishing in the Mediterranean Sea is not clearly known at present. It is known, however, that these dubious activities are becoming a common practice in recent years. Mediterranean Flag states currently report several IUU fishing related issues mostly related to the Mediterranean fleet. In 2013 the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) identified purse seine, trawl and driftnets as the gears that are mostly involved in IUU fishing. Repeated serious infringements related to the use of driftnets were documented in Italy, showing the extent of illegal activities by over 300 Italian driftnetters. A ban on small scale driftnets in the Med would allow closing the current regulatory loopholes that illegal fishing operators have abundantly used to elude controls.
Protection of vulnerable species
Sharks and rays grow slowly, mature late, and have low reproductive potential. As a result, they are highly vulnerable to overfishing and habitat loss, and populations are slow to recover from depletion. Over the past half-century, 13 species of sharks and rays have become locally extinct, mainly in the Western Mediterranean and in the Adriatic Sea. The latest IUCN assessment shows that over half of the sharks, rays and chimaeras native to the Mediterranean are still at risk of extinction. This alarming decrease in species is linked to the high level of fishing effort and bycatch.