9 July 2021, Rome – An ambitious commitment adopted today by 22 countries plus the European Union aims to secure a sustainable future for fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu opened the launch event, highlighting the strategy’s alignment with FAO’s new Strategic Framework and its importance in these challenging times. The strategy’s launch took place at a virtual meeting, bringing together ministers and high-level representatives from Mediterranean and Black Sea countries.
The launch of the 2030 Strategy of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) comes with the backing of many inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and marks the beginning of a critical decade of development for the two sectors.
“The COVID-19 pandemic hit fisheries and aquaculture activities in the Mediterranean and Black Sea hard, with substantial decreases in operations, production and drastic drops in prices for aquatic products,” Qu said. “In building back, we must ensure that recovery efforts focus on the long-term sustainability and resilience of the sector.”
Qu commended the GFCM for helping Members address the significant challenges that Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries currently face. He noted that the new 2030 GFCM Strategy will play a key role in addressing them further, as well as in protecting livelihoods derived from small-scale fisheries. He also highlighted FAO’s readiness to support the efforts of the GFCM, including through its COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme. The Director-General stated that the new FAO Strategic Framework for the next decade provides a clear path to sustainably transform all agri-food systems – including fisheries and aquaculture – to make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable
In his speech, Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, stressed the need for countries to continue working together to protect their seas and oceans, while Foteini Arampatzi, Greece’s Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Food, highlighted the impact of COVID-19 before officially declaring the event open.
Support for livelihoods
Fisheries and aquaculture play a vital role in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region, supporting hundreds of thousands of livelihoods and providing nutritious food for millions. However, the sectors face increasing challenges from climate change, overfishing and IUU fishing, and serious action is needed to preserve the fish stocks and other resources, on which so many people depend.
The last five years have seen encouraging progress. The GCFM has adopted a solid body of conservation and management measures to protect marine living resources and convenes a number of technical meetings that pioneer the development of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and the protection of marine ecosystems at regional and sub-regional level. Bottom-up engagement with fishers on the ground and leading-edge technical input from scientists and other experts have been backed by ministerial commitments on improved fisheries governance and funding for the fast-growing aquaculture sector.
The GFCM 2030 Strategy will take this progress to the next level, building on the lessons learned so far and accelerating efforts to meet the many challenges that remain. It is the result of a participatory process involving all GFCM member countries and wide stakeholder consultation, which has ensured that it deals with real issues and addresses the most pressing priorities across both sectors.
In his keynote speech, GFCM’s Executive Secretary Abdellah Srour drew attention to the achievements made so far and lauded the new Strategy an important framework for future action, adding that its approval was a defining moment in the Commission’s history.
General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean
The GFCM is a regional fisheries management organization established under the auspices of FAO. With 22 Member countries and the EU, its main objective is to ensure the conservation and the sustainable use of living marine resources as well as the sustainable development of aquaculture in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea. The GFCM plays a critical role in fisheries governance in its area of application, having the authority to adopt binding recommendations for fisheries conservation and management and for aquaculture development, including the regulation of fishing methods, fishing gear and minimum landing size, as well as the establishment of spatial protection measures, fishing effort control and of multiannual management plans for selected fisheries.