At the first meeting of the Working Group on Small-Scale and Recreational Fisheries, organisations and stakeholders have taken concrete steps to support the sustainable development of small-scale fisheries.
Acknowledging the multi-faceted nature of interventions to support the sector, several organisations have decided to take action and step up their co-operation efforts in order to establish regular and long-term coordination mechanism.
In light of the current regional policy context, which puts specific emphasis on this crucial sector for the region, this co-ordination mechanism represents an opportunity for unique interdisciplinary partnerships.
In particular, this means the Mid-term strategy (2017-2020) towards the sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries, endorsed by the General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (GFCM), and the Malta MedFish4Ever Ministerial Declaration.
This was signed in March 2017 by several fisheries authorities of Mediterranean countries under the auspices of the European Commission, clearly underlining the key role of the sector to reach fisheries sustainability and secure livelihoods and food security in the region. The FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries call for the empowerment of fishing people in order to develop comprehensive governance based on participation and dialogue.
“Our expectations are that we move steadily towards the provision of evermore accurate and timely scientific advice on small-scale and recreational fisheries, so that we may better consider these sectors in the comprehensive management of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries, taking into account the expertise and available information of each organisation working in the sector” said GFCM Executive Secretary Abdellah Srour.
Seizing this momentum, several organisations, including the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), the FishMPABlue2 project (Fishing governance in MPAs: potentialities for Blue Economy2), the Low Impact fishers of Europe (LIFE) platform, the Mediterranean Advisory Council (MEDAC), the Network of Mediterranean marine protected area managers (MedPAN) and the Word Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), have decided to join forces with the GFCM, to identify co-operation opportunities and develop a long-term coordination mechanism.
“There is a real sense of urgency to empower small-scale fishers across the region to shift towards recovered stocks and sustainable practices. This challenge can only be solved through strong and forward-looking partnerships that can work alongside fishers with innovative solutions aimed at improved livelihoods and sustainable economic development” said Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director of WWF’s Mediterranean Marine Initiative.
According to GFCM, there is no doubt that efforts are underway to consolidate and share existing knowledge, identify synergies among ongoing projects, as well as to set up a mechanism for regular co-ordination among partner organisations.
A follow-up meeting has been proposed to be held in the coming weeks in order to further define a common vision for this mechanism, begin mapping ongoing case studies and concretely determine the next steps.