It seems that the European Commission's fishery administrators have discovered the blue Mediterranean. At least they paid an international research team to compare the fisheries sectors in the Mediterranean and Atlantic areas and to find out whether the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) would fit the Med. The study was summed up in a small but in my view important book (*) based on the work of 4 Dutchmen, 4 Greeks, and unnamed contributors from Italy, France, and Spain.

The gist of the team's conclusions is that while in the Atlantic area CFP doesn't really work, and TACs are not producing the expected results, neither of them is applicable in the Mediterranean at all. It is the effort, rather than output that ought to be regulated in the Med, and there's no point of developing management schemes common for both areas. The one thing recommended for both areas is co-management, that is participation of fishermen's organizations in the design, development, and implementation of management schemes. I'm not sure that the fellows in the European Commission have read the study with great satisfaction. I hope they've read it, though.

However, apart from these conclusions, the book carries quite a bit of interesting information, especially about the less notorious Mediterranean fisheries. Mediterranean fisheries differ from the Atlantic ones by being supported by mainly small-scale fishermen fishing from vessels 90% of which are under 10-m long. The share of trawlers is lower than in the Atlantic fleet. Mediterranean fishermen, apart from some purse-seining operations, are not single-species targeted. They employ a multitude of gear and methods to exploit small, highly mixed local stocks. To add from my personal experience, a trawl catch in the coastal waters of the Med may be easily composed of 10-15 different commercial species of various sizes. Hence, sorting fish on the deck is the most labour consuming task on board.

Another subject is effort regulation as practised in the Mediterranean waters of EU-member countries. In contrary to the Atlantic TACs, this type of management appears to be both, well accepted and effective, perhaps because it evolved from local, often traditional customs and practices. I'm listing some of them out here for the the benefit of the readers interested in fisheries management options alternative to TACs and quotas of all sorts. I read too many times in the recent years that effort regulation is impractical and that the only way to save the fish in the sea is by privatising the sea and selling quotas on the market. So, voila!..

In Spain, effort is regulated by means of licences (access limitation), time limitations (purse seining is not allowed from June through Agust; drift longlining is allowed 20 days/month, in average; coastal trawling can be conducted 5 days/week with maximum 16 hrs/day), and by local effort limitations imposed by Spain's Autonomous Communities influenced by fishermen's organizations (Cofradias). Between 1986 and 1994, Spain has reduced its Mediterranean fleet from 5,861 to 5,057 vessels (16%), their tonnage from 100,351 to 89,809 GRT (12%), and their horspower from 456,570 to 348,408 (31%).

In France, trawlers are not allowed to fish on weekends and on holidays. In addition, fishing hours are strictly prescribed by the trawling sector's autoregulation. Fishermen's organizations (Prud'homies) play a major role in fisheries management.

In Italy, since 1982 licensing of new trawlers is strictly forbidden. A fishing licence is specifying the area in which a vessel is allowed to operate. The licensing system is designed to distribute effort among different areas and different fishing methods. Except from clam fishing, licences are transferrable. Fishing is not allowed on weekends and national holidays. In addition, fishing activities are closed for the time being 30 to 45 days/year, for which fishermen are compensated by the government. The closure period varies according to spawning seasons in the different areas. Dredging is allowed 4 days/week and 8 hrs/day. Again, various fishermen's organizations are involved in the management.

In Greece, trawlers are not allowed to fish from May to September, and purse seiners from December to March. The duration of fishing trips is restricted to 2-5 days for trawlers, 1-2 days for purse seiners, and 1/2 to 2-3 days for inshore vessels.

To this information I may add that effort limitation, mainly by limited access and closures, is practised in the Med also by non-EU member countries, such as, e.g., Cyprus and Israel. Total ban on inshore trawling in the Golfo Castellammare (Sicily) resulted in a rapid recovery of the local commercial fish stocks and increased landings by inshore fishing boats employing small-scale fishing gear. Similar results of a summer-time closure were reported from Cyprus.

It is my impression that what the report writers have learned and are trying to tell their readers is not only that Atlantic-type institutions (meaning CFP - MB-Y), that even in the Atlantic area have awoken heavy resentment within the fisheries sector, shouldn't be copied in the Med, and that any such attempt may cause severe damage, but also that both the EC and national managers of fisheries should seriously consider the introduction of Mediterranean management methods involving effort regulation and the associated fishermen's institutions also in the Atlantic area. This, in spite of the publishers' qualification that the study "does not reflect the views of the European Commission and in no way anticipates the commission's future policy in this area".

One difference between the 2 areas not mentioned in the book is that while the Northeast Atlantic demersal fisheries are producing around 80% of their maximum landings of some 20 years ago, the recent landings of bottom fish from the Mediterranean represent the historical maximum and, according to an FAO report (see August issue) still growing. With pelagic fish landings it is even more so. One explanation for the increasing yields in spite of relatively little formal management and absence of any quotas is the fertilization of this, naturally unfertile (oligotrophic) sea by effluents of human origin. An additional one may be that effort management does work there.

(*) Comparison of Mediterranean and Atlantic Fishery Management.

Salz, P. (Coordinator). LEI-DLO, Onderzoekverslag 135, The Hague.

100 p. 1997.


Comparison of Mediterranean and Atlantic Fishery Management,

March 1997, Salz, P. (coordinator):



1. Atlantic and Mediterranean fisheries are unquestionably in many respects very different. Moreover, the present research demonstrates that the differences do not necessarily imply different conclusions regarding the potential for an effective fisheries management policy.

2. In the Atlantic areas the management through TACs and quotas has not produced the expected results. This may be attributed to still insufficient biological knowledge, problems with compliance and policy implementation. Many stocks are managed with precautionary TACs. Feasibility of effective fisheries management in the Atlantic through the current system of TACs still remains to be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. Management through TACs in the Mediterranean is considered unfeasible because of the multi-species character of the fisheries. It can be concluded for both areas that output regulations may not be as effective as desired.

3. Implementation of technical measures is difficult in both areas because of the variety of technologies applied and high cost of enforcement, if it is to be done by centralized institutions.

4. It may be expected for both areas that more intensive participation of user groups in fisheries management would create conditions for greater effectiveness of policy, Creation and development of appropriate decentralised institutions together with necessary framework for dialogue should be supported.

5. Management of Atlantic fish stocks falls within the jurisdiction of the EC thanks to 222 mi EEZ. In the Mediterranean, national waters extend to 12 mi at most, so that most of the area falls under the International Law of the Sea. Still, the mostly rather narrow continental shelf puts a substantial share of the commercial fish stocks under the jurisdiction of the coastal states.

6. In the Atlantic area most fish stocks are exploited by international fleets so that arrangements at EU level are essential. In the Mediterranean the interaction of international fleets is limited to a number of specific fisheries or areas. The need for international arrangements is therefore particularly related to these fisheries.

7. Relative stability is not (yet) an issue in the Mediterranean, while it is the leading principle in the Atlantic CFP.

Stocks and biological knowledge

1. The fisheries of the (northern) Atlantic can be roughly characterized by: large stocks of single species, spread over wide areas, fished on a large scale by fleets from a multitude of countries with a small variety of gears and target fish dominating the catches. In contrast to this, Mediterranean fisheries typically are small scale operations by local fishermen, fishing with a multitude of gears on small, highly mixed local stocks, with no distinct target species.

2. The European Union manages over 122 stocks in Atlantic waters, representing about 72 percent of total catches. In spite of the highly developed biological research in the Atlantic area, analytical assessments are only available for some 35 of these stocks, the remainder is managed with precautionary TACs. In the Mediterranean the extent and size of most of the stocks are unknown and their level of exploitation can only be suspected.

3. The standard methods of (analytical) stock assessment, developed for Atlantic fisheries, require long time series of detailed and reliable data. Such data are generally not available in the Mediterranean. But the mixed character of the fisheries, makes the standard biological models hardly applicable.

4. Because of its legal status within the CFP, the management advice procedure for Atlantic fisheries is well developed. In the Mediterranean biological research is less well coordinated, but there is also less need for that.

5. In view of the local, small scale nature of most of its fisheries, subsidiary should be the leading principle in setting up a CFP for the Mediterranean. The conservation part of the CFP should be primarily directed at shared or straddling stocks.

6. As a consequence of the general lack of adequate stock assessments, mainly due to the complexity and diversity of the fisheries, the main management instrument will have to be effort control.

Structure of the fleets

1. Contrary to the conservation policy, the EU structural policy applies in the same way to the Atlantic and to the Mediterranean countries.

2. The Mediterranean fleet consists of relatively small vessels. Some 92% of the vessels are under 12 m long. As a whole. the Mediterranean fleet makes up for nearly one half of the number of vessels of the EU fleet, while it accounts for only a quarter of the total tonnage and for one third of total engine power. Various Atlantic countries also have substantial small scale fishing fleets.

3. The kW/GRT ratio is higher for the Mediterranean fleet than for the Atlantic fleet as small vessels generally have a relatively high kW/GRT- ratio. 4. A further difference in fleet structure is the lower share of trawlers in the Mediterranean fleets as compared to the Atlantic fleets. Consequently, the MAGPs for Mediterranean fleets generally require lower reduction rates than those for the Atlantic fleets.

5. During the period '92-'95 the EU fleet has been reduced by about 5%, which is less than the $% required by MAGPIII. Adherence to MAGPs differs widely among the Member States.

6. The priority of structural policy has shifted from investment support towards the reduction of fishing effort. The link between structural policy and conservation policy has become stronger. MAGP targets for fleets operating in Atlantic waters will have to be in balance with relative stability as expressed in the allocation of quotas.

7. In Mediterranean waters, input restrictions imposed by structural polity are in a way more crucial than in Atlantic waters, because of the lack of a quota system in the Mediterranean. In other words, achievement of the fisheries management objectives depends on structural polity and technical measures. Mediterranean fisheries are dominated by small vessels fishing for local stocks. Conservation needs would require a further segmentation of fleet targets within the MAGPs, to bring structural policy in accordance with the locally different situations of fish stocks. Thus, both in Mediterranean and Atlantic waters, a consistency between structural policy and conservation policy is essential.

Technical measures

1. Most technical measures applied in the Atlantic areas to commercial fisheries are specified in the EC Reg. 3294186. A new proposal has been put forward by the EC by mid2996, which attempts to simplify the current regulations.

2. Technical measures in the Mediterranean are contained in the national and regional regulations as well as regulations introduced by local professional organizations. EC Reg. 1626/94 is a first step towards homogenization at EU level.

3. In both areas there is a trend towards an increasing level of detail regarding technical measures in terms of minimum sizes of fish, minimum mesh sizes, gear specifications, closed seasons an areas. In view of the differences between the two areas it does not seem relevant to attempt to develop a common scheme of technical measures which would be applicable in the Mediterranean as well as in the Atlantic.

User group participation

1. In the Atlantic area different degrees of influence of user groups exist, depending on country, type of measure and/or fishery. Some level of consultation exists in nearly all countries. Centralized approach is common. No forms of self-governance have been found. In several North Sea countries (NL, DK, UK) certain forms of co-management, particularly in the area of quota management, are being implemented.

2. In the Mediterranean Member States there is a fairly consistent degree of participation in fisheries management by user organizations (Prud'homies in France, Cofradias in Spain, various groups in Italy). In Greece the participation is very limited.

3. Fisheries management is embedded in national institutional structures. This explains the differences between countries. The variety in degrees of user-participation within any country is partly explained by the way rules are set and the 'stages of evolution' of the relation between fishermen and government.

4. The principle of co-management becomes increasingly relevant in all Member States. Implementation of CFP in the Atlantic Member States has not produced the desired results and there is regularly heavy resentment against it within the fisheries sector, The wide dispersion of the fishing activities in the Mediterranean makes intensive involvement of local organizations essential. While there is a common need in both areas for further development of co-management principles, the practical implementation must recognize the institutional, cultural and other differences between but equally also within these areas.

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