What does #IStayHome mean for Mediterranean fishers and the sea | WWF

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What does #IStayHome mean for Mediterranean fishers and the sea

© Carlo Gianferro
French fishers selling their catch

Like many other key economic activities in the Mediterranean, the fishery sector has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. As our map shows, in most of the Mediterranean countries fishing activities have been limited, and restaurants and seafood markets closed. This means many fishers are struggling to go to sea and even more to sell their catches to their few remaining clients.


Most of the small-scale fishers we work with across the Mediterranean are reporting the same situation: while health security is increasing the cost of seafood distribution, consumers prefer canned or frozen seafood instead of fresh fish. Tourist areas are empty, restaurants are closed or working only with a few home deliveries and local markets are often closed. As a result, most small-scale fishers who are dependent on local and seasonal activities for their living are starting to worry about their present and future.

According to information from the EU and from our national offices, fishing activity and landings are increasing slowly, but there is still a lack of demand. In Italy, Greece and other countries, fishers report that they have almost stopped fishing because of the lack of buyers. In France for example in March fish sales fell down by 80-85% at Rungis, France’s main wholesale food market.

But how is the situation at sea? While reduced fishing effort is contributing to  the rebuilding  of some fish stocks , the increased demand for non-perishable canned seafood products is threatening other stocks, like small pelagics. In addition, the recent reduction of controls and surveillance in several countries and fisheries is quickly leaving the door open to illegal fishing activities.


As WWF, we continue our work with small-scale fishers across the Mediterranean helping them increase their role in the management of fisheries and access local markets and. This crisis has shown how vulnerable and interconnected our communities are. At the same time, it is of outmost importance to prepare for the restart of the fishing activities putting in place concrete national, regional and EU measures to accelerate the long overdue recovery of our fish stocks and support the transition towards a more sustainable and modern way of fishing across the Mediterranean.

COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES FROM MEDITERRANEAN FISHERS

We monitor the development of policies and restrictions across the Mediterranean and work to help fishers access new market opportunities.

How to overcome and take stock of the crisis?

Read WWF's measures, that include short-term actions to help fishers face the current emergency and more long-term priorities to fast-track the recovery of fish stocks and the sustainable transformation of the sector.

Further readings: