GREEN DEAL IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AND BLACK SEAS
Green deal in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The European Commission completed its proposal for the 2022 fishing opportunities in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, adopted on 17 September 2021.
With this non-paper, the Commission has completed the elements missing from the initial proposal, in particular, fishing opportunities stemming from the decisions taken at the 44th annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and elements for the implementation of the Western Mediterranean Multi-annual Management Plan (West Med MAP).
The elements complementing the Commission’s initial proposal are based on the latest scientific advice and reflect the Commission’s ambition for achieving sustainable fisheries and thriving ecosystems in these two sea basins, in line with the legal obligations under the common fisheries policy (CFP) and the commitments taken at international level, reflected in the recently adopted GFCM 2030 Strategy.
For the West Med MAP, they (the complementary elements) follow scientific advice, recommending a combination of management measures stemming from the MAP’s legal framework and are aimed at securing maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by January 2025. All stock assessments continue to show generalised overexploitation of hake and deep-water shrimp stocks, with high level of overfishing and risk of the stocks’ collapse. The scientific advice is to pursue ambitious management in 2022 in order to secure the recovery of the stocks, resilient ecosystems and long-term fleet profitability by 2025.
Based on discussions at technical level with the Member States and all concerned stakeholders, the Commission has decided to adopt a more global approach in 2022, with the necessary combination of different management elements. This approach is aimed at achieving MSY by 2025, a legal requirement stemming from the Western Med Plan, while at the same time using various flexibilities allowed under the Plan. To secure a reduction in fishing mortality, the Commission proposes to continue the reduction of the trawling fishing effort, as well as to develop new management tools in the form of total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for deep water shrimp and the establishment of an effort ceiling for longliners. This package will be complemented by technical measures improving gear selectivity and introducing additional closure areas to protect juveniles and to help strengthen ecosystem resilience.
The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) advises that a combination of effort reductions, TACs and technical measures will bring an improvement in stock size, while keeping socio-economic consequences limited. The reduction of the trawling effort should address the main source of fishing mortality in the western Mediterranean, while complementary management measures should protect stock spawners (by reducing the longliners’ fishing effort) and tackling overfishing (by adopting a TAC framework for the most overfished targeted fisheries: deep-water shrimps), thus guaranteeing a level playing field between the fleets.
Following the agreements reached in the framework of the GFCM in November, new elements are added to the fishing opportunities in the Adriatic Sea. They include the provisions of the new Adriatic multi-annual management plan for small pelagic species, specifically the catch limits for anchovies and sardines and a fleet capacity ceiling for purse seiners and pelagic trawlers. Furthermore, it includes the GFCM decision on the reduction in fishing effort for Adriatic demersal stocks, subject to the 2019 GFCM MAP. Finally, the non-paper also includes the GFCM decision to roll-over certain measures from 2018 and 2019, as the Covid-19 pandemic caused disruptions in the working arrangements of the GFCM technical and scientific bodies, thus delaying the adoption of certain long-term management measures.