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Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries are turning the corner on overexploitation

Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries are turning the corner on overexploitation - Κεντρική Εικόνα

New report shows that while most fish stocks remain overexploited, the number of stocks subject to overfishing has decreased for the first time in decades.  After decades of increasing human pressures on the Mediterranean and Black Sea marine ecosystems and fisheries resources, the latest data suggest that a corner is finally being turned on overexploitation of the region’s vital fish stocks.

According to a new report on the State of Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries (SoMFi 2020), released today, while 75% of fish stocks remain subject to overfishing, this percentage fell by more than 10 percent between 2014 and 2018. Exploitation ratios are down by a similar proportion. Taking into account newly assessed stocks, the number of fish stocks with high relative biomass has doubled since the last edition published in 2018.

The SoMFI report is published biennially by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) – a FAO statutory body which operates under FAO Governing Bodies. The report has been produced by FAO staff within the GFCM Secretariat with the collaboration of select experts and on the basis of the data sent by fisheries administrations along the Mediterranean and Black Sea as well as the analysis carried out by the technical statutory bodies of the GFCM. 

While most of the stocks remain overexploited, this is the first time in decades that the GFCM has been able to report some positive trends. Important examples of improvement amongst priority stocks include European hake, which is displaying signs of recovery in the Mediterranean, and Black Sea turbot, which has seen a decline in its exploitation ratio as its spawning stock biomass has continued to rebuild over the past four years. “Thanks to the commitment of GFCM members and experts to addressing existing challenges, for the first time we can say that some positive signals are finally emerging in the sector” said Abdellah Srour, GFCM Executive Secretary. “While we know there is a lot more work still to be done before the region’s fisheries are on a sustainable footing, we are pleased that we have begun to reverse some of the most worrying trends.” “Sustainable management does not just benefit the fish stocks”, said Islem Ben Ayed, President of the Tunisian Association for the Development of Artisanal Fisheries. “The sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries means sustaining jobs, ensuring healthy food and maintaining cultural heritage in our coastal communities for generations to come.”