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Genoa, May 19, 2017 - According to a new WWF report, the majority of the fish on display on European Mediterranean counters is imported, mostly from the developing world. In fact, for every kilo of fish caught or raised by European Mediterranean countries, almost another two kilos are bought in from abroad.
To give an idea of the scale of the trade, European Mediterranean countries consume almost 7.5 million tonnes of fish each year – yet only around 2.75 million tonnes come from domestic sources. This leaves a much larger amount of fish to find from elsewhere: nearly 5 million tonnes every year.
Many of the imports come from North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya). In 2014, European Mediterranean nations imported some 1.8 million tonnes from developing countries in the region*. Local fishers target high value species to be sold fresh on European Mediterranean markets. European Mediterranean nations’ love of octopus relies on entire communities from Mediterranean developing countries, for example.
The EU states in the region - Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Portugal - analysed in the WWF report, Seafood and the Mediterranean: local tastes, global markets, are among the world’s highest consumers of fish. The region has an annual mean consumption of 33.4kg of fish per capita compared to an EU average of 22.9kg and a global average of 19.2kg. Portugal’s consumption is 56.8kg, more than a kilo of fish per person every week. Spain is the next highest with 42.4kg of fish.
The Mediterranean used to have more than enough fish for everyone, supporting entire communities. But a combination of unsustainable demand and ineffective management has drastically changed the balance. Over the last 50 years increasing industrial fishing methods, poor monitoring and control, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, and environmental factors have all taken a heavy toll.
Marco Costantini, fishery projects manager at WWF Mediterranean, said: “The situation of the Mediterranean reflects the global crisis in fisheries. We urgently need to better manage our relationship with fish and the oceans, and to embed sustainability at the heart of our seafood markets.”
WWF has developed a seafood guide for Mediterranean consumers, explaining how to support sustainable seafood which has been caught in a way that preserves fish stocks and the people who depend on them. In the WWF Sustainable Seafood guide consumers can find both WWF recommendations and tasty recipes created by famous chefs to inspire fish-loving consumers.
To read WWF report:
Seafood and the Mediterranean: local tastes, global markets
For information / interviews:
Chantal MENARD +34 646 75 10 38 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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* Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Egypt and Turkey