Fisheries and aquaculture

About 85 percent of Mediterranean and Black Sea stocks assessed are fished at biologically unsustainable levels. Demersal stocks experience higher fishing mortality rates, while small pelagic stocks show average fishing mortality rates close to the target (FAO, 2016b). Hake stocks in the Mediterranean Sea show the highest fishing pressure, with a fishing mortality rate that is an average of 5 times higher than the target, and for some specific stocks, up to 12 times higher than the target. Conversely, small pelagic stocks show average fishing mortality rates that are close to the target, while for some specific stocks, the fishing mortality rate is estimated to be below the target. The volume of fishery discards in the Mediterranean is in the order of 230 000 tonnes per year, or about 18 percent of total catches. Bottom trawls are responsible for the bulk of discards (more than 40 percent)

The percentage of landings assessed has nearly doubled in recent years, rising from about 20 percent in 2013 to around 45 percent in 2014 and 2015. Moreover, there are regional differences in the knowledge of stock status, with fewer stock units assessed in the Ionian Sea and eastern Mediterranean, compared with the western Mediterranean, the Adriatic Sea.

Figure 2.10
GFCM sub-regions (FAO, 2016b)

The officially reported fishing fleet operating in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea comprises some 92 700 vessels. The fishing fleet is unevenly distributed in the GFCM area of application, with the eastern Mediterranean accounting for the largest share of vessels (28 percent), followed by the Ionian Sea (27 percent), the western Mediterranean (19 percent), the Adriatic Sea (14 percent) and the Black Sea (12 percent). Turkey, Greece, Italy and Tunisia are, in decreasing order of importance, the countries with the largest fleets, accounting for more than 60 percent of the total number of vessel. Artisanal or small-scale fisheries constitute more than 80 percent of the fishing fleet.

In the Mediterranean, landings increased until 1994, reaching 1 087 000 tonnes, and subsequently declined irregularly to 787 000 in 2013.Algeria, Greece, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and are together responsible for slightly more than 80 percent of total landings in the Mediterranean.

Figure 2.11
Total fish catch 1994 – 2014 in 1000 tonnes (Source Fishstat)

A group of 13 main species accounts for some 65 percent of landings, with anchovy (393 500 tonnes) and sardine (186 100 tonnes) being by far the dominant species. In contrast with other regions, clams (56 000 tonnes), mussels (21 000 tonnes) and the species group of squid, cuttlefish and octopus (58 000 tonnes) account for substantial landings.

The total value of fish landings across the Mediterranean is estimated to US$5 billion. The sub region with the highest landing value is the western Mediterranean (US$1.57 billion), followed by the Ionian Sea (US$1.41 billion), the eastern Mediterranean (US$1.07 billion), the Adriatic Sea (US$979 million). Five countries account for approximately 80 percent of the total landing value: Italy with the highest landing value close to US$900 million followed by Turkey, Greece, Spain, and Algeria.

Figure 2.12
From 1990 to 2010 the total value of Mediterranean fisheries have risen 160 %

The average landing prices observed in the western Mediterranean, the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea is about US$3 900 per tonne. In the eastern Mediterranean the average price is about US$1 900 per tonne. At Least 250 000 people are employed on fishing vessels in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.  Artisanal or small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea play a significant social and economic role: they employ at least 60 percent of those workers directly engaged in fishing activity and account for approximately 20 percent of the total landing value from capture fisheries in the region. (FAO, 2016b). In the Mediterranean, aquaculture production is increasing 239,556 tonnes in 1995 to 452,719 tonnes in 2015. The production of Turkey, Italy and Greece represents about 78% of the Mediterranean production. The total value of aquaculture in the Mediterranean is about to US$2 billion. Four countries account for approximately 82 percent of the total aquaculture value: Turkey with the highest value about US$670 million followed by, Greece, Italy and Spain. (Plan Bleu, based on FISHSTAT data).