‘Overshoot day’ for over-exploited Adriatic Sea
21 NGOS write to EU Commissioner Vella asking for Closure of Jabuka/Pomo Pit
Rome, August 2, 2017:- August 2 was Earth Overshoot Day, the day of “over-exploitation of the Earth”, when our exploitation of natural resources exceeds what our planet can generate in one year. A day that unfortunately, arrives earlier every year.
It was also overshoot Day for the resources of the Mediterranean Sea, and in particular the over-exploitation of the Adriatic : it is enough to think that Italy’s Fish Dependence Day (the day when a country uses up its share of fish and becomes dependent on the import of fish from abroad) fell on March 31, on a date earlier than previous years.
In response, 21 NGOs representing thousands of citizens (including international, Italian, Greek, Croatian and Slovenian associations) have written to European Commissioner Vella asking him to close trawling in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit between Italy and Croatia, one of the most important areas for the reproduction of species of fish in the Adriatic, such as hake and Norway lobsters (scampi).
Fishing in the Adriatic produces 50% of all Italian fishery products, but catches have collapsed by 21% between 2007 and 2015 from overfishing. In particular, hake has an over-exploitation rate five times higher than the sustainability limits, although catches have almost halved between 2006 and 2014. This is worse for scampi – catches by the Italian fleet have collapsed by 54% from 2009 to 2014.
The current situation is a serious problem for the environment, but also for the economy and small-scale fishing, given that 75% of the marine resources are captured by 20% of the large industrial fishing vessels, while 80% of the small fishermen catch just 25% of the fish.
“We ask for Commissioner Vella’s intervention in order to protect the Jabuka/Pomo Pit and to establish a Fishery Restricted Area (FRA)” said Domitilla Senni, CEO of MedReAct.
In line with the scientific recommendations of international bodies, and with the commitment of the EU during the Convention on Biological Diversity to ensure the conservation of 10% of its coastal and marine areas by 2020, FRAs are essential for the protection of sensitive habitats – and the species that populate them – from overexploitation due to excessive fishing activity.
In May this year, the Scientific Advisory Committee of the General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean (GFCM) validated the proposal for the establishment of a closed area for demersal fishing in the Jabuka/ Pomo Pit by MedReAct and the Adriatic Recovery Project. “We are now waiting” continued Senni, “for the European Commission to propose the establishment of an FRA for the Jabuka/Pomo Pit closed to bottom trawling and other demersal fisheries at the next GFCM Conference (Montenegro, 16-20 October 2017), according to the advice by the Scientific Advisory Committee”.
The establishment of a closed trawl area in this area will also be the first test case for the European Commission in the implementation of the MedFish4Ever Declaration, adopted in March this year in Malta to recover Mediterranean fisheries.
Letter from 21 NGOs to Commissioner Vella:
More information, contact:
Domitilla Senni, +39 349 822 5483
The Adriatic Recovery Project is an alliance of civil society organizations and research organizations to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems and the essential habitats for Adriatic fish species. The project is funded by Oceans5, supported by Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and coordinated by MedReAct – a non-governmental organization engaged in the recovery of Mediterranean marine ecosystems – in collaboration with Legambiente, Marevivo, Stanford University and the Maritime Polytechnic.