The Mediterranean Sea used to be a wonderful ecosystem with more than 7% of global marine fish species, with a total of 519 different species. Unfortunately, maritime pollution, over-stock fishing and a lack of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) led to a degradation of its ecosystem. Over 8% of Mediterranean fish species are concerned.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN) is a membership Union composed of government and civil society. Established in 1984, the organization measures the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species.
IUCN publication about conservation status of the marine fishes of the Mediterranean Sea reported that 14 species are critically endangered:
- Shark (shortfin mako shark, porbeagle shark, sand tiger shark);
- Ray (spinny butterfly ray, common skate, sandy skate, maltese skate, white skate);
- Sawfish (smalltooth sawfish, common sawfish)
- Angular roughshark;
- Angelshark (sawback angelshark, smoothback angelshark, common angelshark)
- Common Goby.
Moreover, 13 species are endangered and 15 are vulnerable. It is also important to take in consideration the 22 species near threatened.
Fishing industry and coastline population growth
Fishing industry remains the main issue to deal with conservation. Stocks are over-exploited due to the increase of the industry and technological progresses. The use of trawling, long lines and driftnets results to by-catch (capture of non-target species). This destruction of marine life represents over 40% of world’s total fish catch.
Increased of human population along the coastline has also a negative impact on ecosystem. Often associated with local population, it is a source of pressure on fish nursery and spawning areas, which are mostly located along the littoral.
Environmental conservation measures
The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) is a United Nations regional fisheries management organization established in 1949.
The GFCM made a decision in 2005 to prevent deep-water fishing operations below 1000m, reducing the potential pressure on vulnerable deep-water species.
The organization banned also driftnets in 1997, even if some are still used illegally.