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Mediterranean countries unite for aquatic conservation and sustainability

November 15, 2023  By Hatchery International staff

Croatian Agriculture Minister, Marija Vučković opening the session (Photo: ©GFCM/Nikola Brboleža ©GFCM/Dominique Bourdenet)

More than 20 countries and the European Union have adopted measures to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of aquatic living resources. 

The 46th session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations was held in Croatia and saw 34 unanimously adopted decisions, including 24 binding recommendations.

Executive Secretary Miguel Bernal said members should be proud of the successful adoption of a record number of decisions.

“I’m delighted by the ambitious attitude our members brought to the session this year, coming together to achieve common aims and objectives. I also commend the groundwork laid by countries in our technical advisory bodies: it’s their knowledge and expertise that give our members the foundation they need to make more and better decisions about our collective future,” said Bernal. 


The proposals which also ensure sustainable development of aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea centred on three major areas: improving fisheries management, addressing climate and environmental issues in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, and enhancing compliance.

In the past 10 years, GFCM reports that it has implemented strategies to promote and uphold sustainable harvesting of fisheries, while addressing overfishing and aiming for consistent, productive yields over the long haul. 

“Data from the field show that the plans are making a real difference towards sustainability targets,” said Valérie Lainé, head of the fisheries management unit for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, at the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission. “It’s very encouraging to see the impact of our shared efforts.”

Members agreed on a regional plan of action to protect vulnerable species while endangered species received increased levels of protection.  They also brought forward proposals for the decarbonization of the aquaculture sector. These proposals advocate for sustainable energy adoption, methods for capturing carbon, and the use of low-impact production techniques.

Additionally, they’ve introduced a regional climate adaptation strategy aimed at enhancing the sector’s ability to withstand changes in a warming environment.

Amongst other steps to enforce stronger capabilities, two permanent inspection and monitoring programs were initiated for international waters, while new catch documentation systems for commercially significant Black Sea turbot and Mediterranean red coral will improve transparency and aid in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices.

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