To reverse the dramatic decline of Mediterranean fisheries, Commissioner Vella commits to improve the state of the stocks and thus the economic prospects of the industry. At a global event in Brussels, he unveils a new strategy for the Mediterranean and launches a dialogue with Ministers from EU and non-EU countries.
In stark contrast to the North-East Atlantic, where more and more stocks are being fished sustainably, the Mediterranean Sea still laments declining fisheries despite the conservation efforts of both regulators and fishermen. The European Commission, committed to its agenda on jobs and growth, is concerned with what this could mean for the thousands of fishermen active in the Med.
This is why European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella is launching a new Mediterranean strategy and a call for action at international level at Europe’s biggest industry event in the sector: the Seafood Expo Global.
There are several reasons for this bad state, including pollution and climate change. But there can be no doubt that extensive overfishing is one of the key causes. It is equally true that we can't really say how all stocks are faring, because for many we only have very partial data. But even the gaps in knowledge cannot be used as an excuse to delay action.
The EU is willing to take the lead in seeking out solutions for this state of affairs, taking on board our Southern and Eastern Mediterranean neighbours. Commissioner Vella has already been in contact with some of the EU’s key partners, including Algeria, Turkey and Tunisia, and there is a shared sense that action is needed across all stocks. Only a comprehensive approach and a sense of engagement from all actors and countries around the basin can produce concrete results. At a special Ministerial conference the Commissioner intends to start working on a new Declaration on sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean that would be a follow-up to the 2003 Venice Declaration and that, this time next year, should give new vision and impetus to conservation and sustainability in the Med.