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Unsustainable fishing: case study in the Mediterranean

In this article, we discuss unsustainable fishing practices using experiences in the Meditteranean as an example.
a fish cut in half
© FoodUnfolded

According to a report published in 2017 by the European Commission, 85% of fish stocks are fished in unsustainable conditions in the Mediterranean, and 64% are overfished to the point of risking collapse in the coming years.[1]

Who fishes in the Mediterranean?

Today, small fishing boats – those under 12 metres in length – are responsible for only 5% of all the fish removed from EU waters.

In the last 20 years, more and more industrial fishing boats have joined small local fishermen in the Mediterranean (and, in many cases, have replaced them). These industrial vessels have often come after having depleted fish from other regions.[2]

Small-scale fishing would offer obvious social benefits from more employment per catch, but it is the most affected by the depletion of marine biodiversity. Industrial fishing boats, with their enormous nets, can fish the little that is left more easily.

What’s been done and what’s missing?

In order to better understand the impact of different fishing practices in different areas, there is an urgent need for more transparency and traceability.

A step forward has been taken thanks to the introduction of GPS systems (which make it possible to identify all ships present at sea in any given moment),[3] thanks to increasingly strict data collection systems. But a systematic analysis of the behaviour of the fleets and their impact has not yet been done.

Furthermore, the most important missing factor is the political will to make difficult decisions and impose more stringent regulations against illegal fishing and malpractice in the Mediterranean area.

Let’s discuss:

  • Is there anything consumers can do to help small fisheries?
  • Daniel Pauly argued in his Vox article that just as the fight against tobacco in indoor public places has been won by smoking bans, and not by appeals to smokers, the fight in the fishing industry will need government-led action. What do you think about Pauly’s opinion?

Please share your views and comments below.

Author: Silvia Lazzaris

© FoodUnfolded
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