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WWF Statement on 45th Session of General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean.
In view of the overall positive trend for Mediterranean fish stocks with 23 stocks showing signs of improvements, albeit several others (particularly hake) still at a dire state, WWF applauds the 18 recommendations and 3 resolutions approved by the Mediterranean countries and the EU that will strongly contribute to stock recovery in the long term. Specifically, a new fishing ban on the critically endangered European eel was adopted responding to the critical situation of the stock. WWF was also particularly supportive of the new measures adopted to combat IUU fishing, prohibiting transhipment at sea and better regulating transhipment operations among cooperating parties in designated ports and landing sites.
“The transfer of illegally caught fish taking place on the open sea, in particular in the Strait of Sicily, is a major problem allowing illegal seafood products to reach our ports and enter our markets. As such we very much welcome the efforts of the Commission, under the leadership of the European Union, to regulate transhipment at sea and conduct inspections more regularly and on the long term” says Giuseppe Di Carlo Director of WWF’s Mediterranean Marine Initiative.
WWF also praises the approval of multi annual management plans for giant red shrimp and blue and red shrimps, demersal stocks (including hake and black-spotted sea bream) and the first multi annual plan in the Levantine Sea. Several of those plans had a long gestation time and WWF is pleased to see them passed into law, securing the long-term management of some of the most commercially valuable and overexploited fish stocks in the Mediterranean.
As the year 2022 celebrates the International Year for artisanal fisheries (IYAFA), the Commission renewed its commitment to the Regional Plan of Action for Small Scale Fisheries (RPOA-SSF). WWF through the SSF Summit - hosted by the FAO last September - and the Friend of SSF Platform has been active to give a voice to the small-scale fishing sector.
“Mediterranean countries and the EU have reconfirmed their commitment to boost the implementation of measures and investments in favour of small-scale fisheries, especially by giving fishers a voice in the decisions that affect their livelihoods” adds Di Carlo. “WWF works with small-scale fishers across the Mediterranean to pilot new approaches that can successfully transform the sector towards a more sustainable use of marine resources. We now need greater investments and the right policies in place to keep Mediterranean fishing communities alive and thriving, increase the value of blue foods and recover our sea ”.
In closing, WWF congratulates Miguel Bernal, newly appointed Executive Secretary of the GFCM. As a GFCM observer, WWF is committed to support Mr Bernal in the interest of a smooth transition for the Commission and the secretariat. We are confident that with his leadership the GFCM will pick up the pace towards achieving the ambitious target of the GFCM 2030 strategy.