Results and Status, including trends (brief)
Mediterranean catches are composed by a variety of species, with up to 30 species contributing to 90% of the catches, but the bulk of catches comes from small pelagic species, mainly anchovy and sardine.
Total landing in the Mediterranean steadily increased from about four hundred thousand tons in 1970 to around l million tons in 1994, but subsequently declined irregularly, to a figure of around 800.000 tons in 2015. The decrease in catches since 1994 is obvious in all Mediterranean subregions. However in the Adriatic, the declining trend was observed between mid 80’s and early 90’s, and catches have remained low since.
Results and Status, including trends (extended)
The Mediterranean production was increased strongly from the 50s to the beginning of the 80s raising from 420.000 tones to approach 1.000.000 tons. Then, it continued increasing until reaching its historical peak about 1.100.000 tons in 1994 (Sauzade and Rousset, 2013). Since that time, however, the catches follow a continuous and irregular decline except in 2006 when a peak was recorded, especially due to an exceptional catch of small pelagic. In 2015, total catch for the Mediterranean was around 800.000 tons (FAO, 2016) (Figure 3).
An analysis by sub-regions (including data up to 2014), shows as in the Western Mediterranean, marine landings, by main group of species, were about 320.000 tons in the beginning of 70s, and then it raised steady reaching a value of about 381.624 tons in 1987 (Figure 4). Afterwards, apparent fluctuations were observed that continued until 2004. A peak of about 432.493 tons was reached in 2006 followed by a significant downward trend. This peak is observed notably in the small pelagic landing group, which includes sardines and anchovies. This species group contributes with about 60% to total Western Mediterranean landings (Figure 5a) following exactly the same overall trend as this sub-regions total landing.
From the start of the examined period until the beginning of the 80s, the total Adriatic Sea marine production showed an upward trend, except in 1987 when a drop is observed (Figure 4). The Adriatic production stabilized in an average value of about 359.037 tons from 90s onwards. In that period, the production of the species groups of herrings, sardines and anchovies was raised apparently, on the contrary the production of molluscs group has showed a decline (Figure 5b).
The Central Mediterranean landing increased steadily from its minimum reported production of about 83.884 tons in 1970 to its historical level of about 273.872 tons recorded in 1995 (Fig. 4). Afterwards, the marine reported landing was decreased progressively until reaching a minimum value of about 149.652 tones. An improvement in the catch, mainly due to the increasing amount of the species groups of herrings, sardines and anchovies was detected in the following years especially in 2006 (Figure 5c). Recently (from 2009), the central Mediterranean production returned to decrease.
Likewise, the Eastern Mediterranean marine production follow an upward trend from the beginning of the time series to 1994 (Figure 4). Also in this case, this increase is specially observed in the groups of herrings, sardines, and anchovies and in the miscellaneous coastal fish (Figure 5d). Since 1994, a relevant decrease is shown.
An analysis by countries (Figure 6; FAO, 2016) shows that, in the western Mediterranean, Algeria, Spain and Italy, together account for 75 percent of landings, with Morocco and Tunisia also making sizeable contributions. Landings in the Adriatic Sea are dominated by Italy and Croatia, with almost equal volumes, together representing more than 99 percent of catches. In the Ionian Sea, Italy and Tunisia together account for 75 percent of landings, with Libya accounting for another 19 percent. In the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt makes the largest contribution (38%), followed by Greece (29%) and Turkey (27%), each of these making almost equal contributions.
In general, the Mediterranean catches are composed of a variety of species. However, they are dominated by small pelagic group: anchovy (393.500 tons) and sardine (~186.000 tons) are by far the dominant species, representing almost the 38% of total landing in the GFCM area of application (Table 2). Other species account for about 55 percent of landings. Clams (~56.000 tons) and mussels (~20.000 tons) account for substantial landings, as do the species group of squid, cuttlefish and octopus (58.000 tons), which are mainly characteristic and endemic of the Mediterranean.
The analysis by sub-regions (Figure 7) reveals as almost 30 species contribute to 90 percent of the total landings. The only exception is represented by the Adriatic Sea, where catches are dominated by less than 15 species.
Also in this case, the most important species in all Mediterranean sub-regions are sardine (Sardina pilchardus), and anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus): the percentage contribution of both species being very similar in the Ionian, western and central Mediterranean Sea. In the Adriatic Sea, those species contributed up to 60% of total landing, followed by the clam (Chamelea gallina) with a contribution up to 20% and by different demersal coastal fish that accounted for about 6%.