Ending Trawling in Protected Areas in the Mediterranean Sea

Jose Cuentos
Grantee Global Fishing Watch
Grant Amount €824,300.00
Duration Two Years

Bottom trawling in the Mediterranean is the practice that has the most significant effect on ecosystems and fish populations in this region, the world’s most overfished sea.  It is also the most profitable sector of the industry, giving it significant social and political support, and impossible to challenge when faced from a single country. The habitual over-looking of transgressions of this sector by authorities reflects this, and makes the prospect of achieving full compliance in future protected areas in the Mediterranean a nominal prospect, at best.  To save the Mediterranean Sea from devastating fishing practices, we first need to change the culture in which rules are made, only to be broken.

For the first time, a significant number of organizations have come together under a shared strategy to mount an effective international campaign to protect the Mediterranean from the impact of bottom trawling, reverse the culture of non-compliance and achieve enforcement of existing and expansion of the network of fully or highly protected marine protected areas (MPAs), Fisheries Restricted Areas (FRAs) and no-trawl areas.  

To do so, we will investigate and expose the extent of obviously outrageous practice of bottom-trawling in waters that are supposed to be protected.  Using this evidence as leverage, we’ll use legal tools, advocacy and public pressure to improve enforcement and compliance in Mediterranean coastal States.  We will also undertake research that addresses some socio-economic aspects of this issue. 

The Med Sea Alliance is a campaign movement, bringing together non-government organizations and networks seeking to improve the health and productivity of the Mediterranean Sea.  This is the first time that such a diversity of organizations have come together in a common strategy to tackle overfishing and destructive fishing in the Mediterranean.  Our shared goal is a Mediterranean Sea with a rich and resilient ecosystem, where the rules and practice of fishing support the health of the marine environment for generations to come.