Protecting the Adriatic Sea

Fish market. Photo credit: Francesco Cabras

This project seeks to limit overfishing, recover fish stocks and protect critical habitat by promoting new “Fisheries Restricted Areas” (FRAs) in the Adriatic Sea. The project also will promote stringent fishing capacity and control measures, including requirements for vessel authorizations and satellite tracking. A Steering Committee comprised of leading marine conservation organizations in Italy—MedReAct, Legambiente, and Marevivo—Stanford University and the Marche Polytechnic University oversee the project.

The Adriatic is characterized by high biodiversity with the largest area of continental shelf in the Mediterranean Sea, including almost half (49 percent) of all Mediterranean marine species. It is one of the most productive fishing areas in the Mediterranean and subject to intense bottom trawling and dredging. Fish stocks are chronically overexploited, particularly bottom-dwelling species.

Adriatic fisheries are managed by the European Union and by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM. The EU recently launched a high-level initiative to stop overfishing, seeking to implement the 2020 deadline in the Common Fisheries Policy. The GFCM is similarly engaged in tackling overfishing, including the establishment of FRAs. The Steering Committee will help develop the scientific, economic and legal justifications for the FRAs, including formal submissions to the GFCM. This work will include engaging decision makers, scientists, relevant stakeholders and implementing a communications, outreach and advocacy campaign.