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Commercial Fishing


Mediterranean countries unite to fight IUU fishing

Mediterranean countries unite to fight IUU fishing

  • IUU fishing catches millions of tonnes of fish every year.
  • It is estimated that IUU fishing accounts, on average, for about 20 percent (or 1 in 5) of the world’s total catch.
  • In an unprecedented effort, countries in the Mediterranean are working together to protect the fish stocks and fight against IUU fishing.

With 46 000 km of coastline (more than the periphery of the earth), the Mediterranean Sea is a semi-enclosed sea surrounded by the highest number of countries. To protect the over‑exploited fish stocks in the region, as well as the thousands of coastal livelihoods that depend on its marine resources, countries from all shores are collaborating to curb IUU fishing.

Indeed, IUU fishing creates unfair competition with small-scale fishers that abide by the regulations, threatening the food security and livelihoods of entire coastal communities.

Seventy-five percent of fish stocks are currently overfished in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Nonetheless, according to the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) management strategy evaluation work (a model that forecasts how fish stocks react over time to management measures following the GFCM’s management plans) these fish stocks could recover if IUU fishing is eliminated.

Under the framework of the GFCM, the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) is working with Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Libya, Montenegro and Tunisia to ensure that inspections at sea are consistent across the region.

The role of inspections in the Mediterranean is critical to ensure compliance with fisheries rules. The GFCM is developing an international joint surveillance and inspection scheme across the Mediterranean to train national inspectors and enhance the access and exchange of information and data in the region.

EFCA has chartered an offshore patrol vessel, the Lundy Sentinel, that supports the deployment and exchange of inspectors from various countries and thus enhances the compliance, capacity building and exchange of best practices in real operational situations in the field.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the exploration of new methods of control including the use of remote electronic monitoring, reinforcing the electronic logbook (ERS) and the use of new technologies as fishing gear sensors and marking through dedicated pilot actions. Using these new control methods, the number of inspections and sightings reported and transmitted to the GFCM Secretariat has continued to increase.

To complement EFCA’s practical trainings, and in line with the commitments taken in the Malta MedFish4Ever Ministerial Declaration, the GFCM provides trainings on international law and GFCM decisions on monitoring, control and surveillance to continue to build the capacity of inspectors in the fight against IUU fishing. In 2022, a virtual training academy for fisheries inspectors will be open to Mediterranean countries to further support comprehensive and harmonious inspections at sea.