Environmental NGO Med Sea Alliance, in a press release on Tuesday, asked fisheries ministers forming the United Nation’s General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) to prioritise putting an end to illegal bottom trawling.
Med Sea Alliance’s call for an end to bottom trawling, an environmentally detrimental fishing practice that involves dragging nets across the sea floor, was released as international fisheries ministers gather in Malta for the GFCM’s MedFish4Ever conference between the 3 and 4 October.
The NGO said, “It is vital that fisheries ministers recognise that not only is illegal bottom trawling taking place in the Mediterranean, but this destructive practice is putting ecosystems and livelihoods at risk, and that many protection measures currently exist only ‘on paper’ – that is, without full enforcement.”
The Alliance called on the GFCM member government to commit to corrective and enforcement measures before next month’s GFCM annual session in Split, Croatia. “It is well within the power of ministers to enact these crucial measures, and would go a significant way to preventing this activity devastating our protected areas,” they said.
The NGO said that although GFCM members, which include Malta, have agreed on measures against illegal fishing, “these are not always adequately implemented or enforced,” putting “Mediterranean fisheries, ecosystems and livelihoods at serious risk.”
They described bottom trawling as one of the “most unselective and destructive forms of fishing”, noting the Med Sea Alliance’s online atlas documenting cases of illegal trawling in the Mediterranean’s protected areas.
Malta’s Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries, Alicia Bugeja Said, addressed the MedFish4Ever conference on Tuesday morning commencing Malta’s hosting of the conference.
The Shift has reported how Azzopardi Fisheries, a key player in the local fisheries industry, is a regular donor to Bugeja Said’s political campaigns, raising concerns of conflicts of interest despite Bugeja Said’s denials.