Montenegro has recently hosted the General Fishery Commission for the Mediterranean and Black Seas (GFCM) meeting and its Scientific Advisory Committee celebrated on 3-5 February 2014 in the Adriatic city of Bar. This kind of meeting was divided in sub-committees devoted to several thematic issues such as marine protected areas (MPA), environment and ecosystems, stock assessment and economic and social sciences.
The IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation has had an active participation in the MPA working group which has examined the different types of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean region including fisheries restricted areas (FRA) of the GFCM, marine protected areas of the IUCN management categories, the regional database on MPAs developed by the MedPAN with other organizations, areas of special importance for cetaceans according to ACCOBAMS, the activities developed by the UNEP-MAP RAC-SPA, and the Tripartite (France, Italy and Monaco) Sanctuary for Marine Mammals named Pelagos.
Participants were invited to present different proposals of MPAs and MPAs networks and engage in discussion to address the similarities, differences, advantages and challenges of each one.
As a whole, experts agreed that fisheries restricted areas are a valuable tool to be considered at regional level as they require a linear and simple process for their establishment, are open to different types of stakeholders, and are easy to be complemented with additional protection measures (to be adopted by other competent regional organizations and national authorities).
In the light of discussions, experts have proposed to consider the creation of national MPAs in national waters covered by fisheries restricted areas, as it was highlighted by IUCN-Med, this already occurring in 14 riparian countries. They have also proposed to consider the creation of fisheries restricted areas in waters already protected at national or international level by different organisations.
Cooperation and collaboration among different organisations or bodies at international, regional and national level has been underscored by participants as a key element for the success of protection and conservation initiatives.
At the end of the meeting, recommendations were drafted to be considered by the Contracting Parties to the GFCM during their following meetings.
For further info: Alain Jeudy