The annual meeting of FAO’s General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), held last week in Rome, agreed upon a new package of measures to conserve fish stocks in the region.
The GFCM is an intergovernmental organization set up by FAO to promote the development, rational management, responsible use and conservation of living marine resources in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Its members are Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, EC, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey). Membership is open to both Mediterranean coastal states and countries which fish in Mediterranean waters.
Changes will be made to the shape of the mesh holes in trawls to permit small juvenile fish that have not yet reproduced to escape capture and return to the wild to breed. The species that will benefit from the measure include red mullet and hake, popular with consumers but listed as either fully- or over-exploited by FAO.
The commission also set a common set of criteria to measure the capacity of fishing fleets in the Mediterranean and evaluating their impacts on shared fish stocks. This is the first time such a unified system has been recognized in the region.
The GFCM also endorsed the new rules on tuna fishing (including a 15-year recovery plan for bluefin tuna starting in 2007, 6-month off-seasons for specific types of boats, bans on the use of aircraft in spotting tuna, observers on fishing boats to monitor their adherence to regulations) recently adopted by the International Commission on Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).
FAO categorizes bluefin tuna stocks in the Mediterranean as ‘depleted’, meaning that current catches fall well below historic levels.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)