CoCoNet Press Release March 2015
MARINE PROTECTED AREAS CAN BE A SOLUTION AGAINST IUU FISHING
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is one of the serious threats for the sustainable fishing in the entire Mediterranean Sea basin, including the Black Sea. IUU fishing results in environmental problems, such as ghost fishing, by-catch, depletion of fishing stocks, and destruction of benthic ecosystem. This issue has several social, economic and legal dimensions. Most of the coastal states are aware of IUU fishing practices in their territorial waters. However, most of them do not necessarily keep records of by-catch, ghost fishing and fisheries crimes. Purse seine, trawl and driftnets are most common fishing gears for the IUU fishing. The most common target species are bluefin tuna, swordfish, and shrimps among benthic species in the Mediterranean Sea; turbots and sturgeons in the Black Sea. Most of the by-catch species are cetaceans, sea turtles, sea birds and sharks. Concerted actions and international cooperation are essential to halt IUU fishing.
Historically and traditionally in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, fishing has been of vital importance and provides significant source of food and income. However, several stocks are currently depleted due to overfishing: 50% of which are reported to be already overfished. As a matter of fact, IUU fishing has been only currently recognized as a serious threat for the conservation of the marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean and Black Sea as well as for the sustainable use of living marine resources found therein.
At a regional level, the socio-economic ramifications of IUU fishing in the Mediterranean have to be addressed when dealing with this problem. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are one of the effective tools against IUU fishing practices in the Mediterranean and Black Sea as they can serve as a kind of reservoir and support marine species in the natural environment. More MPAs means less IUU activities because designated areas and their borders are protected by law even though the implementation can be low in some areas. That is why MPAs in the Mediterraanean and Black Sea should not be protected only by paper but also guardians and rangers are essential to control illegal practices including fishing.
The CoCoNet Project is a part of the solution for the mitigation and zero tolerance of the IUU fishing both in the Meidterranean and Black Sea.
Catching the undersized fish – one of IUU fishing practices