The voice of Low Impact Mediterranean fishermen

First Workshop on Challenges and Solutions for Mediterranean Low Environmental Impactors was organized by the European Platform LIFE

Croatian fishermen from the Association of Professional Fishermen Velebit met on Thursday 28-29 November in Athens with colleagues from other fishermen’s associations from Greece, Italy, Cyprus, France and Spain to hear their demands for better fisheries policy at the national and European level and discussed the procedures to achieve these goals.

This event, organized by the Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE) platform, has enabled small fishermen of low environmental impact to jointly identify problems and solutions and discuss a series of initiatives and activities to ensure survival and the sustainability of its fisheries sector.

Participants were passionate about the need to create long-term plans that would be part of a more dynamic and effective fisheries management of the Mediterranean. All of these plans aim at long-term sustainability and hand-armed areas with spatial and temporal limitations, the conservation of the hatchery and the population of underserved fish.

It is equally important for stakeholders to reduce and then ultimately remove contamination from the Mediterranean, as it has significant negative consequences on coastal fishing and the wider marine environment.

The conference has clearly articulated not only the exceptional importance of small fishermen and fishermen of low environmental impact on the history and culture of their communities but also highlighted the benefits they bring to society, the economy and the environment as the main creators of their wealth and the sea keepers.

Speakers from across the region have stressed that the entire Mediterranean fishery is threatened and that the previous fisheries policy has raised the interests of large operators with mobile tools, often at the expense of smaller fishermen. Participants, therefore, appealed for better regulation and supervision of these activities and pointed out the need to prohibit trawlers to coastal waters. At the same time, they pointed to the burning need for substantially more selective fishing of all in the profession in order to avoid unwanted catches of fish less than the prescribed size. Many participants also emphasized the need for a deliberate revision of the quota allocation method for tuna that would be fairer and that would take more into account the interests of small fishermen.

Delegates from all Mediterranean EU member countries have shown in their own examples how prejudicial the previous policy was and pointed to the urgent need for urgent transition of Mediterranean fishing to long-term sustainability.

Much commentary concerned the need to introduce areas temporarily sealed for fisheries to restore fish stocks and provide examples of successful implementation of such areas, where shellfish stocks have grown by more than 500% in just a few years. To make these initiatives successful, fishermen often needed financial and scientific support, including effective long-term sustainable management plans.

At the meeting, there is also a clear and generally accepted view that small fishermen need their representatives in the advisory councils, which will give the member states and the European Commission more balanced and comprehensive recommendations for the creation of a fisheries policy.

Presentation of opportunities through the new European Fund for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (EFPR), benefits provided by Local Action Groups in Fisheries (short FLAG), joint management of coastal fisheries funds, access to markets, diversification and promotion of best practices, and support provided by LIFE to has made some participants, to a certain extent, believe in the future.

Speaking on behalf of Greek hosts, Dimitris Zannes thanked LIFE for organizing and facilitating this gathering and took the opportunity to emphasize how important, and often so neglected, the contribution of women to the survival and success of small fishermen in the Mediterranean.

LIFE Executive Director Jerry Percy has said that LIFE recognizes the important role women play in this industry sector. He then thanked the Greek hosts for their warm hospitality and all the participants in a diverse and wide-ranging contribution to the discussions. The group said that everyone in LIFE was aware of the enormous challenges faced by small fishermen and Mediterranean fisheries, but that greater challenges also provide greater opportunities for change.

LIFE is a platform designed to give a clear and unified voice at EU level to the silent majority of European small fishermen using low environmental impact gear and hunting methods, which has long missed a representative in Brussels who would effectively advocate for their interests even and at member state level. More details of the meeting and the full text of the Joint Statement can be found on the website