Fifteen Ministerial delegates representing both northern and southern Mediterranean countries have signed on Thursday a flagship Declaration whereby they make a 10-year pledge to save the Mediterranean fish stocks and protect the region’s ecological and economic wealth.
The text, dubbed Malta MedFish4Ever Declaration, crowns months of negotiations that started in Catania, Sicily in February 2016, under the aegis of the European Commission. It sets out a detailed work program for the next 10 years, based on ambitious but realistic targets, the EC said in a statement, adding that the signing of the Declaration gives political ownership to an issue that was up to now managed at technical level.
Over 300 000 persons are directly employed on fishing vessels in the Mediterranean, whilst many more indirect jobs depend on the sector, the statement recalled.
Under the Declaration, the signatory countries, including Morocco, pledge to ensure by 2020 that all key Mediterranean stocks are subject to adequate data collection and scientifically assessed on a regular basis. In particular, small-scale fishermen are to acquire an increased role in collecting the necessary data to reinforce scientific knowledge.
They also vow to establish multi-annual management plans for all key fisheries, eliminate illegal fishing by 2020 by ensuring that all States have the legal framework and the necessary human and technical capabilities to meet their control and inspection responsibilities.
In this vein, the text underlines that the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) will lead the development of national control and sanctioning systems.
The signatories likewise promise to support sustainable small-scale fisheries and aquaculture by streamlining funding schemes for local projects such as fleet upgrade with low-impact techniques and fishing gear, social inclusion and the contribution of fishermen to environmental protection.
The effective implementation of the declaration will be made possible by involving in the process fishers –men and women–, coastal communities, civil society, industrial, small-scale, artisanal and recreational fisheries, as well as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and GFCM, the EC statement said.