Times of Malta, 03 October 2023: “Mediterranean fish forever Ministers meeting in Malta this week must end illegal bottom trawling, which would be a win-win for fish stocks and fishing communities”
Figures estimate 73 per cent of Mediterranean fish stocks are overfished, with fishing pressure on average twice the level considered sustainable. This is severely hampering the long-term health of a sea already in peril.
This summer’s heat, fires and floods showed once again that our region is a climate change hotspot. Our common sea, which we have long relied on to absorb heat and CO2 emissions, is undergoing repeated marine heatwaves. Ambitious and urgent action is needed to save our sea.
Fisheries ministers are gathering in Malta this week for the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean’s (GFCM) MedFish4Ever High-Level Conference, which “aims to take stock of advances and inspire reinforced ambition towards sustainable Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries and aquaculture.”
This follows the “MedFish4Ever Declaration” signed by ministers in Malta in March 2017, setting forth “their intent to improve the situation of Mediterranean fisheries over the next decade through a series of ambitious targets and activities towards strengthening fisheries management and governance”.
Yet six and a half years later, fisheries ministers must face the sobering reality – many of the already existing protection measures aimed at curbing illegal fishing in the Mediterranean exist only on paper. Grand statements make for good headlines, but out on the water, a lack of compliance and enforcement is putting Mediterranean fisheries, ecosystems and livelihoods at serious risk.