Yesterday, more than 20 ministers met under the umbrella of the GFCM to share views on how to ensure the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
In the presence of Virginijus Sinkevicius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Manuel Barange, Director of the Fisheries Division and acting on behalf of the FAO Director-General, Roland Kristo, GFCM Chairperson and Abdellah Srour, GFCM Executive Secretary, this brainstorming on pressing priorities for the fisheries and aquaculture sectors marked the start of an important participatory process to build together a new strategy for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the region.
“With the signing of MedFish4Ever&Sofia Declarations we have written history. We made a promise to the hundreds of thousands of people in the Mediterranean&Black Sea region who depend on healthy seas and sustainable fisheries,” said Mr Virginijus Sinkevičius. “A promise of change towards a prosperous future.”
“We have doubled the world’s per capita fish consumption since 1960. We project it will grow further in the next decade, the Decade of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. But this will not happen by itself” explained Manuel Barange “It needs political will, technological innovations and financial investments.”
“The virtual presence of so many ministers today shows everyone that the goal of jointly elaborating a new strategy for Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries and aquaculture is a common priority. A priority we can’t postpone”, stated Roland Kristo.
The interventions of the minister underlined five key priorities:
1. Enhance fisheries sustainability, including through better compliance and enforcement;
2. Sustainably develop aquaculture and boost responsible investments;
3. Support the socio-economic dimension of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, including through robust value chains;
4. Improve the conservation of the marine environment, including interactions with fisheries and adaptation to climate change impacts;
5. Promote innovation, scientific research, technology transfer and capacity building, including through broader partnerships and stakeholder engagement.
“We must seize the momentum and forge ahead in our efforts towards reaching the commitments we all agreed upon in the MedFish4Ever and Sofia Declarations” concluded Abdellah Srour. “A new strategy can play a central role in guiding our work.”
Following this event, the GFCM will conduct a consultation with a wide array of stakeholders and partners to gather their input and priorities. This information will be consolidated and presented on the occasion of a coordination meeting (to be held in the first quarter of 2021) where a zero draft of the new GFCM strategy will be discussed. A high-level event will be held in June 2021 in Greece to adopt this new strategy.