In a groundbreaking move towards sustainable fishing, more than 20 countries and the European Union have embraced 34 measures to conserve and sustainably manage marine resources in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. The decision, reached during the forty-sixth session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), marks a significant victory for advocates of responsible fishing practices.
One of the standout measures is the prohibition of bottom fishing, including the environmentally harmful bottom trawling, in a 400-square-kilometer area around the deep-sea coral of Cabliers Bank. This area, forming the westernmost part of the Mediterranean Sea, is crucial for marine biodiversity and acts as a refuge for young fish. The ban, effective from 2024, aims to preserve this unique hotspot.
The Mediterranean, particularly its western part, has long been plagued by overfishing, with over 90 percent of stocks exceeding sustainable levels. To address this, the GFCM has introduced measures such as enhanced traceability for fisheries products, decarbonization initiatives, and a multiannual management plan for common dolphinfish.
In addition, the decision to empower the GFCM to take action against persistent violations of gear restrictions or illegal trawling in no-trawl zones demonstrates a commitment to enforceable conservation efforts. The GFCM’s role as the first regional fisheries management organization to establish a permanent working group for the decarbonization of fishing activities underscores a dedication to sustainability and resilience in the sector.
This united effort to safeguard the Mediterranean and Black Sea reflects a positive shift towards responsible fishing practices and environmental conservation. The newly adopted measures aim to combat illegal practices, reduce the carbon footprint of fishing activities, and ensure the protection of vulnerable species and habitats. As the Mediterranean takes a green turn, these measures pave the way for a more sustainable and ecologically responsible future for the region’s marine ecosystems.