Small scale fisheries | WWF

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© Mathieu Foulquie
Small scale fisheries

Small-scale fisheries (SSF) represent 80% of the Mediterranean fleet.

Although they are still responsible for the majority of commercial fishing activities in the region, between 2008 and 2018 the estimated number of small-scale vessels fell from around 68,000 to 60,000.

Mediterranean fisheries are facing serious challenges due to over-exploitation. This is threatening the survival of small-scale fishers and their families whose livelihoods and income depend on dwindling catches. SSF account for around 59% of all onboard employment in the Mediterranean, a total of some 134,300 jobs.

Depending on their location and the fishing gear used, SSF can also be a threat to specific species – these include elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates), marine mammals, turtles and birds caught as bycatch. In addition they can harm sensitive habitats, such as seagrass meadows (Posidonia oceanica), coralligenous reef assemblages and deep rocky seabeds.

Co-management with the small-scale fisheries community is very much needed to manage, monitor and protect MPAs more generally; small-scale fishers benefit, in turn, from stronger stocks and improved returns on landings.
The map shows the number of fishing vessels in GFCM sub-areas and breakdown of fishing vessels by fishing practice group and country
Small scale fisheries

In collaboration with fishermen, some Marine Protected Areas should be kept entirely free of fishing activity.

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