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Taking stock of six year’s engagement with small-scale fisheries to start a new phase
© Emirhan Karamuk
Transforming small-scale fisheries

After 6 years, we have closed the first phase of our project dedicated to the transformation of Mediterranean Small-Scale Fisheries. In 2017, when we committed to improving the sustainability of this sector, we realised that small-scale fishers represent the majority of the fleet in the entire Mediterranean; they were fishing in the coastal zone where most marine biodiversity is present, but were neither managed nor monitored. Except for rare cases, most decision makers and fisheries managers were solely interested in trawling and their target stocks. In collaboration with extraordinary partners, ranging from small-scale fishers to the FAO-GFCM, the Mediterranean Advisory Council and the European Commission, we have shown that if properly listened to, managed and with adequate technical assistance and funds, small-scale fishers are not a threat but allies in reducing impacts on biodiversity and in adopting more sustainable practices. 

We have worked with Spanish, French, Italian, Croatian, Albanian, Greek, Turkish, Tunisian and Algerian fishermen and women. With them we have developed co-management initiatives and participatory processes, and developed local, national and international organisations needed to increase the political representation of this crucial sector. We have identified or created innovative approaches to increase the livelihood of fishers and accelerate their access to structural funds for sustainable development. Finally, we have contributed to the development and approval of a 10-year Mediterranean (and Black Sea) Action Plan for SSF fisheries management, which has been signed so far by 18 countries. 

To put all this in numbers: 9 new co-management schemes and 117 decisions towards sustainability are supported by over 1000 small-scale fishers; 7 new No-Take Zones have ensured the protection of 1,450 ha of marine area and a further 60,000 ha are protected by 3 new fisheries restrictions areas across the 9 project sites.

© Emirhan Karamuk
Increasing the role of women in Mediterranean small-scale fisheries

And now? We have just started the second phase of the project, because the transformation is not complete. SSF fishing is dying out and a new generation of fishers is needed to enter this sector. There is a need for the entrepreneurial capacity of women, innovation is needed to reduce the ecological and carbon footprint of fishing and to increase resilience to climate change. Ultimately, the regional SSF fisheries management plan needs to be fully implemented.

Our vision is for "a future in which people live in harmony with nature" and this is why we think working with SSF fishers is crucial. Six years ago, in most coastal areas of the Mediterranean, where marine biodiversity abounds but so do human activities, including fisheries, there was little trace of this "harmony". Now we see it flourishing, at least in some areas, and we are proud to be part of this positive and increasing transformation. 

Read more HERE