Crucial step towards building a culture of compliance
Split, Croatia, November 10, 2023:– NGOs today commended the decision by Mediterranean states to create a sanction system that will empower the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) to take action against countries which continue overfishing or illegal fishing, calling it “a crucial step towards building a culture of compliance, which is essential to start rebuilding Mediterranean fish populations”.
A Call to Action for the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean
Taking decisive action to end bottom trawling in the Mediterranean Sea in areas where it is already banned, and hence considered illegal, should be a top priority for all GFCM Contracting Parties responsible for promoting sustainable fisheries and protecting marine biodiversity. First, it is vital to recognise that not only is illegal bottom trawling taking place in the Mediterranean, but this destructive practice is putting ecosystems and livelihoods at risk, and that many protection measures currently exist only “on paper” – i.e., without full enforcement. Second, urgent steps must be taken to end illegal bottom trawling by strengthening transparency, compliance, and the enforcement of GFCM measures.To help accelerate government action, several member organisations of the Med Sea Alliance (MSA) have joined forces toexamine and expose illegal bottom trawling and recommend concrete solutions to both national authorities and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM).
2 November 2022: Members of the Med Sea Alliance, a diverse coalition of NGOs, today launched a new data atlas which, for the first-time, maps areas permanently closed to bottom trawling across the Mediterranean and investigates illegal trawling in these areas.
The Atlas is an online tool that maps presumed and confirmed infringements of bottom trawling in areas where it is permanently banned to protect sensitive habitats and depleted fish stocks. The Atlas has been released ahead of the 45th meeting of the GFCM*, the fisheries management body responsible for the Mediterranean. During the period of January 2020 – December 2021, the Atlas recorded incidents of possible bottom trawling in 35 closed areas by 305 different apparent vessels across 9518 apparent days of fishing activity (based on Global Fishing Watch data¹) and 169 cases of confirmed infractions between 2018 and 2020, based on MedReAct research on media outlets and information released by national control authorities.
This week, ministers from all 164 member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) failed once again to curb harmful fisheries subsidies that lead to overfishing at the 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. While Oceana says that eliminating harmful subsidies is the greatest single action that can be taken to protect the world’s oceans, the WTO has continually failed to reach a meaningful agreement since initially taking up the issue at the 2001 Doha Ministerial Conference. Since then, governments have spent over USD $400 billion globally on harmful fisheries subsidies, according to Oceana estimates.
Despite the adoption of the Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement, EU governments continue to provide billions of fossil fuels subsidies that degrade our environment and contribute to the climate crisis. The fact that there is no single commonly accepted definition of fossil fuel subsidies further creates lack of accountability and transparency in reporting.
Lower taxes or full tax exemptions are allowed for commercial fuel in the aviation, transport, fisheries, energy generation and maritime sectors, and for the production and extraction of coal, gas and oil.