Thursday, June 4, 2015

04/06/2015: Mediterranean and Black Sea States strengthen their cooperation and take historic measures for future of fisheries in region

The representatives of 25 countries of the Mediterranean basin and the Black Sea, Japan, the European Union as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations have taken historic steps on the occasion of the thirty-ninth annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), held in Milan on 25‑29 May 2015.

Shortly after the entry into force of its new legal instrument reinforcing its efficiency and setting ambitious objectives, the GFCM has just agreed upon important measures for the management and conservation of fisheries resources in both the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In particular, the Members of the GFCM have adopted four binding recommendations setting emergency measures for small pelagic fisheries in the Adriatic Sea, standards for bottom trawling demersal fisheries in the Strait of Sicily as well as measures to ensure sustainable fisheries management and to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Black Sea. In a situation where most fishery resources are overexploited and are progressively being depleted, it is becoming urgent that all the riparian States work together and take common decisions to properly manage the resources they share. The adopted measures are in line with this and represent a decisive step towards more sustainable fisheries in the region.

Another important highlight of the session is the decision to grant the cooperating status to Georgia and Ukraine. Until now, these two countries were participating as observers in the work of the GFCM and this new status will surely give momentum to a stronger involvement and cooperation among the Black Sea riparian States and represents a first important step towards full membership.
The session has also provided an opportunity for the GFCM members to reaffirm their willingness to adopt measures to deter IUU fishing and to raise awareness among the public about this scourge. Indeed, they have agreed to proclaim the 24 April of each year as “International day against IUU fishing” in order to mobilize organizations, stakeholders and the general public worldwide in the fight against IUU fishing, and given mandate to the GFCM to explore ways to promote this initiative and investigate on the necessary steps for its establishment.

Finally, in light of the growing importance of the aquaculture sector in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region and of the great potential it offers to meet the rising demand for fishery products while providing sources of healthy and nutritious seafood, the GFCM has been entrusted with the task of developing a new strategy for aquaculture in the region.

“This is an important day for our Commission and for Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries. Now that the Commission has the means to act more efficiently through its new legal framework, all members have shown their commitment to work together, even more actively and efficiently, to achieve our common and ambitious objectives” said Mr Abdellah Srour, Executive Secretary of the GFCM.

This year, the thirty-ninth session was hosted by the Government of Italy. Given the important contribution of fisheries and aquaculture to food security and in order to send a powerful signal of its commitment towards a sustainable future for the planet, the Italian government decided to hold the opening session at Expo 2015. The audience was addressed by the Undersecretary of State of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry (Mipaaf), the Hon Giuseppe Castiglione, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs, and Fisheries, Mr Karmenu Vella and the Assistant Director General – FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Mr Arnì M Mathiesen.

Visit the GFCM site HERE

Visit the FAO site HERE.

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