Slow Food

Slow Fish - A New Alliance to Save the Mediterranean

Italy - 07 May 07

Slow Fish has created a spontaneous, non-binding and all-inclusive alliance for the protection of the Mediterranean, its resources and the communities it supports. This is one of the key concepts that emerged from today’s conference, held on the last day of the event, entitled “The Mediterranean: a sea of questions: New regulations, shared fish stocks and future developments.” The speakers were Claudio Burlando, President of the Region of Liguria; Silvio Greco, President of the Slow Fish Scientific Committee and Scientific Director of ICRAM; Guido Tampieri, Undersecretary of the Italian Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies; Anastasios Grous, Director-General for Fishing at the Greek Minstry for Rural Development and Food; and Roberto Burdese, President of Slow Food Italy. The meeting was moderated by Cinzia Scaffidi, Director of the Slow Food Study and Research Center. The first to speak was Claudio Burlando, expressing his satisfaction for the event’s success. As a result, Genoa and the region of Liguria are reference points for issues relating to the environment and the potential for eco-sustainable Mediterranean development, he said. “Out of this is born the necessity to organize a forum on the Mediterranean system in Genoa in 2008. It will bring together not only all of the ministers responsible for the environment, agriculture and fishing in the countries which border our sea, but also researchers, fishing communities and everyone who is involved in the sector,” he said. Silvio Greco was next, outlining a series of alarming statistics: “Even though the Mediterranean represents just 1% of our planet’s water, it is responsible for 30% of the world’s maritime traffic. This has had devastating effects on its ecosystem, so much so that pelagic tar levels are at 38.2 mg per square meter, in comparison with 0.2 mg in the Japan Sea. Up to now EU policies for the protection of the Mediterranean have been disastrous, because they are based on a governance model better adapted to the North Sea or the Atlantic, and they have had to be modified for the crisis.” “Today, for the first time, we have clean-up projects which are already financed,” he continued. “The new regulations regarding fishing in Europe which came into force on January 7 this year are confusing and allow too many exceptions. We need to establish suitable quotas, based on data which can only be provided by funded scientific research.” The example of fishing policies in Greece was recounted by Anastasios Grous, who said, “For some time Greece has adopted stricter regulations than the EU. However the problem is that these laws are valid only for European fishing boats, while those of other countries follow their own national laws, which are usually much more permissive. In this way the impoverishment of the fish stocks and biodiversity of the Mediterranean shows no signs of slowing down. We need to make the regulations more homogenous.” Guido Tampieri continued on from Grous’s speech, confirming the need for a more wide-ranging orchestration in the shared management of a complex system such as that of the Mediterranean. The Undersecretary stated that a sea without fish is not just a problem for the fishing industry. Tampieri raised some questions: How can we continue to produce wealth without destroying the natural resources? Do natural resources have rights? According to him, the preservation of natural resources is a right and a need. He then concluded by highlighting that for a proper management of the Mediterranean policies must be far-sighted, gradual, balanced and shared. This is how we will win the challenge of the century, namely sustainable development, he concluded. Roberto Burdese drew the proceedings to a close by placing an emphasis on the role that Slow Fish has had in creating this movement of confrontation between European institutions, experts, fishermen and workers in the fishing sector. He then announced: “Slow Food has decided to prepare over the next few days a dossier in which all of the important themes dealt with during this event’s many meetings will be reported. It will be available online through our site, and will be sent to all of the ministries of environment and fishing in the countries which border the Mediterranean, and to marine researchers.” “This dossier will be the point of departure for the forum on the Mediterranean to be held in Genoa in 2008, and we can then come together again for Slow Fish 2009, better informed by reflection and debate. I will finish by stating four fundamental points: the need to find a shared policy in the management of aquatic resources; a great gain in awareness and a strong commitment in the battle against pollution; a greater respect for the law and the start of a large-scale cultural campaign for the respect of regulations and against illegal fishing. Finally, if it is true that the market dictates the rules, we cannot give in completely to it. It is a market which has reduced the diversity of its offerings and has favored disinformation.”