Today, the Commission adopted its proposal for fishing opportunities for 2024 for the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. The proposal promotes the sustainable management of fish stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas and delivers on the political commitments made in the MedFish4Ever and Sofia Declarations.
The Commission proposes to use the same tools that were introduced in the 2022 and 2023 fishing opportunities, based on the latest available scientific advice. These tools include fishing effort for trawlers and longliners as well as catch limits for deep-water shrimps. These measures were established under the Western Mediterranean multiannual management plan (MAP) for demersal stocks, with the aim of reaching by 1 January 2025 at the latest the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), i.e., the maximum amount of fish that fishers can take out of the sea without compromising the regeneration and future productivity of the stock.
Most fishing opportunities will be proposed at a later stage, based on the results of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) annual session (6-10 November 2023) and the scientific advice for demersal stocks covered by the Western Mediterranean Multiannual Management Plan (MAP), which is expected towards the end of October.
In the Mediterranean Sea, the proposal keeps unchanged measures for red coral. For blackspot seabream and deep-water shrimps this year’s proposal continues a gradual reduction in catches for both species, in line with the newly agreed GFCM management plans from 2022. The proposal for common dolphinfish and other stocks with GFCM transitional measures that expire at the end of 2023 will be updated after the 2023 GFCM annual session.
In the Adriatic Sea, the proposal continues the implementation of the GFCM MAP for demersal stocks and the GFCM MAP for small pelagic stocks. For small pelagic stocks, the proposal continues the implementation of a third transitional year of the MAP. For demersal stocks, it proposes to continue the implementation of the fishing effort regime in line with the goal to reach MSY by 2026. The GFCM is expected to adopt decisions on further implementation of both Adriatic MAPs at the 2023 GFCM annual session.
In the Black Sea, the proposal includes catch limits and quotas for sprat and turbot. For sprat, the Commission proposes to maintain the 2023 catch limit. For turbot, the levels of total allowable catches (TAC) and quotas will be set and adopted at the 2023 GFCM annual session.
The proposal demonstrates the Commission’s objective to make fisheries in these two sea basins sustainable, in line with the 2030 Strategy of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), which is the regional fisheries management organisation competent for the conservation and management of fish stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas.
The Council will discuss the Commission’s proposal on 11 and 12 December and establish the allocation of fishing opportunities. The regulation should apply as of 1 January 2024.
The Commission promotes an enhanced multilateral approach and cooperation to fisheries management in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. The Malta MedFish4ever and Sofia Declarationsestablished a new governance framework, which was strengthened by the adoption of the new 2030 GFCM Strategy.
The multiannual management plan for demersal stocks in Western Mediterranean, adopted in June 2019, introduced a fishing effort regime for trawlers intended to achieve an overall reduction of up to 40% in five years. In December 2021, based on scientific advice, the Council introduced a holistic approach, combining effort measures for both trawlers and longliners and catch limits for deep-water shrimps. In 2022, the Fishing Opportunities Council Regulation introduced a new compensation mechanism for trawlers. This mechanism is designed to encourage trawlers to use more selective gear and to fish in areas that avoid juveniles and spawners. The mechanism was further implemented in the 2023 fishing opportunities.
In 2017, the GFCM adopted a MAP for turbot in the Black Sea. This was the first set of management and control measures to be implemented at the regional level.
The MAP was reviewed at the GFCM annual session in 2019, and a new quota allocation and a transitional TAC were adopted.
Since 2019, the GFCM has adopted multiannual management plans for demersal species and for small pelagic species in the Adriatic Sea, as well as MAP for blackspot seabream in the Alboran Sea and MAPs for the management of deep-water shrimps in the Strait of Sicily, the Ionian, and the Levant Sea.