A series of ambitious and innovative steps have been taken by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the FAO on the occasion of its thirty-seventh annual session, held in Split, Croatia.
Confirming its leading role in the promotion of the management, conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, the GFCM approved a number of historic conservation and management measures to guarantee the sustainable exploitation of key fish stocks. For the first time in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, a multi-annual sub-regional management plan for a shared fishery has been adopted. This plan addresses the management of small pelagic species, namely sardine and anchovy, in the Adriatic Sea, with a view to minimizing the threat of overfishing and stock decline and encouraging the sustainable exploitation of these important target species while maintaining stable yields. In the Black Sea area, the GFCM has adopted binding provisions to guarantee the protection of juvenile turbots until they reach the reproductive size, therefore contributing to the renewal of this population. This measure also foresees standards for turbot fisheries aimed at reducing by-catch of cetaceans.
The GFCM members have also agreed upon significant actions to strengthen the control and monitoring of fishing effort and fishing capacity through the adoption of guidelines to guarantee the enforcement of GFCM decisions and to strengthen governance in the management of fisheries through the establishment of protected areas.
Recognizing the key role to be played by aquaculture towards food security and economic growth, the GFCM has renewed its commitment to foster the sustainable development of aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea through the establishment of the first multi-stakeholder platform involving all players in the sector.
Finally, this year’s session was marked by substantial steps forward to support the reform process, launched in 2009 with the aim to modernize the institutional framework and ensure a more efficient functioning of the GFCM. Capitalizing on the efforts of all GFCM member States, this process should lay the foundations of enhanced sub-regional cooperation and bring a special focus to the long-term sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.