This is the unanimous message launched by Mediterranean artisanal fishermen and marine protected areas managers.
The fishing industry and European seas are in crisis and need immediate and practical solutions. Mediterranean small-scale fishermen work towards a sustainable way of making gains while peserving the resource. But despite their efforts the they believe EC is moving in the wrong direction, beginning with transferrable fishing quotas (privatization of communal marine resources), a lack of involvement of stakeholders in management, and the commercial use of juvenile fish.
At a recent meeting organized by the European project MedPAN North that brought together fishers and managers of marine protected areas from 6 countries, artisanal fishermen from the Mediterranean chose to communicate with the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki through 140 characters on Twitter, complete with photos, sent from the Marine Reserve of Torre Guaceto.
FISHGREEN! We fish in a sustainable way!
On Wednesday evening there were three replies on Maria Damanaki’s twitter page.
“We want to thank Commissioner Damanaki first of all for having replied to us in such a brief time and for having paid attention”, said Miquel Sacanell, Spanish representative of the Mediterranean Platform of Artisanal Fishers. “We represent the ‘other half’ of the fisheries workforce in the Mediterranean Sea. We use selective fishing methods and we have a long-term collaboration with marine protected areas which brings benefits and increasingly positive results to everyone.
“We sincerely hope that the ‘virtual’ contact we have made with Commissioner Damanaki will lead to a face-to-face meeting in one of the areas where we work”, added Christian Décugis, French representative of the platform.
The artisanal fishermen want the opportunity to explore Mediterranean issues more fully with the Commissioner, beginning with ensuring the co-management off fishing activity in the Mediterranean through “comanagement committees” per fishery and discussing the impact that the commercialization of fish juveniles could have on fish stocks and the positive role of fisheries reserves; developing an alliance with marine protected areas has clearly demonstrated that sustainable forms of fishing do exist, are possible and productive; in protected areas the controlled management of fishing can increase catches by up to 2 times; and non-selective fishing methods, typical of some industrial fishing, need to be discouraged as far as possible.
The fishermen’s appeal was launched following the first meeting of “MEDITERRANEO – artisanal fisheries in marine protected areas”. Twenty-five artisanal fishermen and 17 MPAs from 6 countries — Croatia, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Slovenia — attended the meeting on March 16 and 17 at the Marine Reserve of Torre Guaceto, Italy, organised by the European MedPAN North project, Port Cros, the Marine Reserve of Torre Guaceto, WWF and Federparchi.
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