Oceana calls for emergency closures of heavily overfished stocks in the Mediterranean
Press Release Date: February 9, 2016
Oceana warns at high-level seminar that if overfishing is not stopped by 2020, closing fisheries or losing them will be the only options left
Oceana urges the EU to announce this week in Catania concrete proposals to overcome the severe overfishing that is threatening the short-term future of Mediterranean fisheries. 96% of assessed stocks exploited exclusively by the EU are overfished and in some cases up to 14 times over sustainable levels. Oceana calls for immediate action, including emergency closures for stocks where fishing mortality is so high that it cannot be returned to a sustainable state in the short term, e.g. certain hake stocks, to avoid fishery closures in 2019.
“We don’t want Mare Nostrum to become Mare Mortuum”, states Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “The European Commission and EU member states have the duty and power to take action now and end overfishing by 2020. Otherwise, closing all fishing activities in the Mediterranean will be the only option left to save marine resources and even to fulfil the law.”
Whereas EU-managed Atlantic stocks have shown signs of recovery over the last 10 years thanks to scientific advice and a reduction in fishing catches, the Mediterranean Sea has gone from bad to worse. Important EU stocks such as blackbellied angler, blue whiting and red mullet, are fished over 10 times more than what is considered sustainable in some areas. Mediterranean hake currently has the most alarming overexploitation status ever recorded, being fished up to 14 times over sustainable levels. Oceana warns that the health of these fishing stocks is rapidly deteriorating and its capacity to recover after negative impacts is diminishing. Moreover, after 2020, overfishing will be illegal in the European Union waters as set up by the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Oceana is attending the high-level seminar about the state of Mediterranean fish stocks (9-10 February in Catania, Italy), organized by the European Commission (EC) and the Mediterranean Advisory Council (MEDAC). To this day, truly effective measures and fisheries management plans remain shockingly absent from EU Mediterranean waters. EU decision makers must act now against overfishing to ensure environmental conservation and protect the future livelihoods of coastal communities in the region.
Read more about Oceana proposals in this factsheet