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 – or no-take marine protected 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.
A key element of any fisheries management is the decision on how to distribute the access to fish. While usually the access criteria are based on historical trends, there are increasing attempts around the world aiming at providing a preferential access to sustainable practices. The new CFP supports this approach and we want to ensure that it is reflected also in the Mediterranean. In order to do so, we believe that an effective approach is sharing good practices by ensuring that stakeholders have access to knowledge and information.
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.
All the fisheries in the world are subsidized in a way or another, from direct aids to tax exemptions. Per se, subsidies are neither “good” or “bad”, it all depends on the political choices that stand behind them and the options they support. Unfortunately, over the last 30 years, subsidies have been mostly allocated to respond to short term social and economic drives, when they should have been oriented to ensure the transition towards long term sustainable fisheries.