Overfishing is Putting the Mediterranean at Great Risk - Oceana USA
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June 3, 2013

Overfishing is Putting the Mediterranean at Great Risk

Agdal 2-24 *** Local Caption *** The Moroccan driftnetter Agdal setting the nets. South of Alborán Sea, Morocco. Oceana Ranger Expedition 2011: Heading towards Seamounts. July 2011. El redero de deriva Agdal calando las redes. Mar de Alborán Sur, Marruecos. Expedición Oceana Ranger 2011: Rumbo a las montañas y cañones submarinos. Julio 2011.

As we wrote about last week, the EU has taken some major steps toward a strong Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). That could mean less overfishing, better protection for endangered species, and an overall healthier ocean. Just a day after that agreement was reached, it seems that the CFP principles are set up for their first test.

In short, the Mediterranean Sea is not in great shape at the moment. The European Commission released a statement that while the Atlantic fish stocks have been making a comeback and are only 39% overfished (still lousy), the Mediterranean is in a cycle of overexploitation with 88% of its fish stocks overfished. As Xavier Pastor, Oceana Executive Director, put it, “the stalemate of overexploitation in the Mediterranean is a disgrace.”

The good CFP principles agreed to last week are just that–principles. They aren’t yet hard and fast rules, which are exactly what we need to see now. According to Pastor, “The main instruments we have for recovering fish stocks are catch limits and effort restrictions. Setting these at sustainable levels will be the first test of the recent agreements reached under the CFP.”

If the EU doesn’t take bold action soon, the legendary Mediterranean Sea could lose out on much of the vibrancy that makes it great.