The report “The State of Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries 2018” was published at the Fish Forum currently taking place in Rome on 11 December.

The report, which was awaited with great anticipation, raises hope on the one hand, but on the other it clearly shows how catastrophic the situation in the Mediterranean and Black Sea is.

Thanks to the excellent work of the General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean (GFCM) and the willingness of many people involved in fisheries, the number of overfished stocks fell by ten percent between 2014 and 2016.

Nevertheless, 78 percent of the stocks are still overfished. The Mediterranean and the Black Sea are still the world’s most overfished marine regions.

Although only about 50 percent of commercially important fish stocks are currently known about their status, there is no doubt that additional countermeasures must be taken urgently to prevent their depletion. Among other things, it would be imperative to reduce bycatch rates: 275,000 tonnes of fish, but also turtles and dolphins end up as bycatches every year. Bycatch is particularly high in bottom trawls, where the bycatch rate accounts for up to 40 percent of the catch. At the same time, this fishing method causes considerable and long-term damage to the seabed.

The governments of the riparian states have recognised the seriousness of the situation. They have at least taken the first steps towards making fishing more sustainable. But the future of the oceans does not lie in the hands of politicians alone. We can all help to ensure that enough fish remain for the animals that feed on them and for the people who, unlike us, are actually dependent on this source of protein.

The official launch of the report can be watched as a webcast.