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Oceana applauds new steps forward on transparency for Mediterranean fisheries

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Oceana welcomes the adoption by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of a measure that will improve its Authorised Vessel List. As of the next round of reporting by GFCM member countries, the list will publicly display which vessels are allowed to fish in which restricted areas, allowing more transparency and effective monitoring. The measure is an outcome of the 44th annual GFCM Commission meeting that took place from the 2-6 November.  

“We applaud the decision of the GFCM to prioritise transparency and accountability in the fisheries sector by approving the modification of its Authorised Vessel List. This outcome will allow authorities, researchers and NGOs to cross-check information and have more clarity on which vessels can fish where, to prevent illegal activities at sea. To effectively tackle IUU fishing, it is essential to keep improving the list, to make it more complete and transparent,” said Helena Álvarez, marine scientist at Oceana in Europe. 

Oceana asks Mediterranean countries to further expand the information included within the GFCM Authorised Vessel List, requiring additional important information such as the vessel owner, previous flag and greater detail relating to the types of fishing licenses granted. Following best practices in other RFMOs, this information should be publicly accessible through the GFCM website, along with all other information contained within GFCM’s Authorised Vessel List. 

Oceana also welcomes the adoption of a new Fisheries Restricted Area (FRA) in the Bari submarine canyon in the South Adriatic Sea, a 1000 km2 area closed to bottom trawling, protecting important cold-water coral reefs, nursery grounds for sharks and essential fish habitats for European hake, red mullet and deep-rose shrimp. At the meeting, the proposal to permanently establish the Jabuka/Pomo Pit FRA (Northern Adriatic) was also adopted. For Oceana, these steps are important advances to improve the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems and expand the network of fisheries closures in the Mediterranean and Black seas.  

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Euro-Mediterranean relations

High-level meeting sets out a new vision for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea

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The high-level meeting on the new strategy for the Mediterranean and Black Sea took place under the umbrella of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius attended the meeting, together with FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, as well as the fisheries ministers of GFCM contracting parties.

The participants reaffirmed their political commitments of the MedFish4Ever and Sofia Declarations and endorsed the new GFCM Strategy (2021-2030) with the aim of ensuring the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and Black Sea in the next decade. Commissioner Sinkevičius said: “With the endorsement of the new GFCM Strategy, today we have crossed another milestone on the path towards sustainably managed fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas.  We have come a long way with the new fisheries governance launched in 2017, under the framework of the MedFish4Ever and Sofia Declarations. Yet we are not at the end of our journey, much more remains to be done.”

The Commissioner underlined the need to start implementing the strategy immediately and encouraged regional partners to support the ambitious package of measures the European Union will put forward at the GFCM annual session in November when the strategy will be formally adopted. Commissioner Sinkevičius emphasized the importance of protecting biodiversity in creating resilience and profitability of the fisheries sector. With its five main targets, the new GFCM strategy will continue to build on past achievements. More information is in the news item.

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Euro-Mediterranean relations

Mounting death toll in Mediterranean cause for concern for UNCHR and IOM

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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are deeply disturbed by reports of a tragic shipwreck off the coast of Libya. Fears are that this latest incident could have claimed the lives of up to 130 people. The rubber boat, which reportedly embarked from the Al Khoms area east of Tripoli, is said to have capsized due to bad weather and stormy seas. The NGO SOS Méditerranée reported that the first distress call was received by authorities on Wednesday morning. SOS Méditerranée and commercial vessels searched the area on Thursday (22 April) only to discover several bodies floating around the deflated rubber dinghy but no survivors.

This would be the largest loss of life recorded in the Central Mediterranean since the beginning of the year. So far in 2021 alone, at least 300 other people have drowned or gone missing in the Central Mediterranean. This is a significant increase compared to the same period last year, when some 150 people drowned or went missing along the same route. IOM and UNHCR warn that more migrants and refugees may attempt this dangerous crossing as weather and sea conditions improve and living conditions in Libya deteriorate.

In Libya, migrants and refugees continue to be subjected to arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, exploitation and violence, conditions that push them to take risky journeys, especially sea crossings that may end up with fatal consequences. Legal pathways to safety, though, are limited and often fraught with challenges. UNHCR and IOM reiterate their call on the international community to take urgent steps to end avoidable loss of lives at sea. This includes the reactivation of search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, enhanced coordination with all rescue actors, ending returns to unsafe ports, and establishing a safe and predictable disembarkation mechanism.

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Sweden and the Union for the Mediterranean sign an agreement in support of regional integration and co-operation in #Mediterranean 

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thumbnail_Fathallah-Sijilmassi-SG-UfM-and-Anders-Framkenberg-Director-Regional-Unit-MENA-of-SIDA-1-1024x298The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the UfM Secretariat have signed a €6.5 million multi annual financial agreement to support UfM core activities in favour of a more sustainable and inclusive development in the region. 

As a clear signal in support of enhanced regional cooperation and integration in the Mediterranean, the UfM Secretariat and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) have signed a €6.5 million multi-annual financing agreement to deepen and amplify UfM specific cooperation initiatives and core activities promoting regional dialogue. Sida’s support will be focused on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, within the wider frame of the UfM mandate.

“The Union for the Mediterranean is an action-oriented organisation designed to build and operationalize common agendas in the region. The agreement with Sida is a concrete and substantial contribution to UfM activities and overall regional efforts towards the three strategic objectives of human development, stability and integration. Indeed an example of effective partnership”, underlined UfM Secretary General Fathallah Sijilmassi.

“The region’s social and economic development is hindered by the low level of economic and regional integration. The main focus of our agreement with the UfM Secretariat is to strengthen integration in the Mediterranean by advancing and amplifying UfM regional dialogue and cooperation initiatives on sectors of particular value for the sharing of best practices, fostering dialogue processes and advancing the regional agenda”, said Anders Frankenberg Sida’s Director of the regional unit for the Middle East and North Africa. The Swedish Development Agency supports a number of activities in the region and has successfully cooperated with the UfM and project partners on issues related to governance and financing as well as on capacity building related to water.

On the occasion of the Second UfM Regional Forum held in January 23-24, 2017, Ministers for Foreign Affairs gave a strong political impulse to the UfM by endorsing a roadmap for action centred on strengthening regional cooperation in the Mediterranean.

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is a unique intergovernmental Euro-Mediterranean organisation which brings together all 28 countries of the European Union and 15 countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. The UfM provides a forum to enhance regional cooperation, dialogue and the implementation of concrete projects and initiatives with tangible impact on our citizens, with an emphasis on young people, in order to address the three strategic objectives of the region: stability, human development and integration.

The Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean is the platform to operationalise decisions taken by the member states, implementing strategic regional projects through a specific methodology based on dynamic multi-partner networks and the exchange of best practices and innovative methodologies: more than 45 regional projects labelled by the member states worth over €5 billion, mainly in the areas of sustainable and inclusive growth, youth employability, women’s empowerment, student mobility, integrated urban development, and climate action.

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