Securing a sustainable future for Black Sea fisheries
Almost two years after the Bucharest Declaration signed in October 2016, six nations bordering the Black Sea and the European Union signed the Sofia Declaration renewing their commitment to achieve sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the region.
After successful discussions under the umbrella of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the FAO, the ministers and high-level representatives of Black Sea coastal countries have pledged to take concrete action in order to ensure a brighter future for the region and its coastal communities.
This declaration was signed just after the recent conference on Black Sea fisheries and aquaculture, held in Sofia, Bulgaria.
This event, organised by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in close collaboration with the Bulgarian Government and in partnership with the European Commission as well as other international organisations, offered a unique opportunity to discuss key challenges and to further dialogue and cooperation among all the riparian states.
The Sofia Declaration sets concrete objectives and actions that should help develop a comprehensive regional governance in the Black Sea. This should be achieved thanks to greater solidarity and co-ordination among all coastal countries in order to fight illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), improve data collection and science, improve fisheries management, and support sustainable small-scale fisheries and aquaculture.
The many threats to this peculiar marine region posed by environmental conditions and human activities need indeed to be properly addressed if we are to secure the region's ecological and economic wealth and viable livelihoods for coastal communities.
â€˜Today is a historic date for the Black Sea. All countries present have recognised that they have a shared responsibility to address these challenges and that they need to collaborate in each otherâ€™s interest,â€™ said Abdellah Srour, Executive Secretary of the GFCM.
â€˜In this context, the GFCM is called to play a central role to promote and support dialogue and cooperation throughout the region.â€™
Through the BlackSea4Fish project and thanks to the establishment of Aquaculture Demonstrative Centres in the Black Sea, the GFCM has been successful in enhancing regional cooperation in both fisheries and aquaculture and has provided technical assistance to facilitate knowledge-sharing and improve the provision of advice.
Much work remains to be done but there is strong hope that efforts will be continued thanks to the momentum created.
The conference was attended by eleven countries (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine) as well as by representatives of the FAO, the European Commission, the European Fisheries Control Agency, ACCOBAMS, the Black Sea Advisory Council,the Black Sea Commission, Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Eurofish, the Black Sea Sunrise Fisheries Association, the Danube Sturgeon Task Force, the European Association of Fishermen in the Black Sea and WWF.
Black Sea fisheries. Image: @FAO/Amico C
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