Mediterranean fisheries selected for sustainability audit

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) together with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) announced today the fourteen Mediterranean fisheries that are selected to undergo the MSC pre-assessment process as part of Project Medfish, an initiative to encourage more sustainable fishing in the Region.

The project has already mapped 100 Mediterranean fisheries in France and Spain. The sustainability of seven French and seven Spanish fisheries will now be evaluated by independent certifiers and local experts.

The initial assessment will evaluate the sustainability of the 14 fisheries, using the MSC Fisheries Standard as a benchmarking tool. Using these scores, action plans for improving the sustainability of the fishery will be developed by the fisheries as needed.

A broad range of fisheries

The fisheries selected for MSC pre-assessment were chosen to be broadly representative of fishing activities in the Mediterranean. They include a range of commercially important species, including red mullet, anchovy, prawn, octopus, hake or sardine, and encompass a diversity of fishing techniques. The results of the pre-assessments will be available early in 2017 and will inform sustainability action plans to be developed by WWF in collaboration with the fisheries and fishers. Some of these fisheries may have the opportunity to enter full assessment to the MSC Fisheries Standard, which is widely recognised as the world’s most credible assessment for sustainable fishing.

Camiel Derichs, Director for the MSC in Europe, said: “Analysis to date shows that fishing in the Mediterranean is primarily small scale, with fishing vessels targeting multiple species. It also shows a lack of data, raising concerns about the long term sustainability of Mediterranean fishing. These pre-assessments to the MSC Standard will be an important step towards helping fisheries understand what is required to safeguard Mediterranean seafood supplies for future generations.”

”With over 93% of the fish stocks being fished at or beyond sustainable limits, it is key to achieve sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean,” says Giuseppe di Carlo, Director WWF Mediterranean Marine Initiative. “Fishing remains today one of the most important activities along the Mediterranean coastline. We need to address the state of these stocks: it’s a matter of securing the livelihood and income of thousands of people.”

Fisheries to be assessed under Project Medfish:

Palamós red shrimp trawl fisheryGulf of Lions octopus pot and Portuguese trap fishery
Balearic Islands sandeel beach seine fisheryGulf of Lions sardine purse seine and beach seine fishery
Gulf of Lions hake trawl fisheryGulf of Lions hake trawl fishery
Motril and other ports striped soldier shrimp trap fisheryCorsica common dentex longline fishery
Villajoyosa, Santa Pola and other ports red mullet trawl fisheryGulf of Lions sea bass and gilthead sea bream gillnet fishery
Caleta de Vélez and other ports anchovy purse seine fisheryGulf of Lions mutable dog whelk trap fishery
Mar Menor camarote prawn trap fisheryGulf of Lions wedge clam hand dredge fishery

Results to date: Improved understanding of the diversity of Mediterranean fisheries

Preparatory work identified all existing fisheries in the areas covered by Project Medfish. In total these fisheries represent 3,646 Spanish and 1,400 French fishing vessels registered to Mediterranean ports, using 11 different gear types.

The first stage of the project then involved detailed mapping of 97 fisheries (47 in France and 50 in Spain). This provided information on fishing practices, species targeted, the marine environment and management systems. 90% of the French fleet and 65% of the Spanish fleet fish on a small scale. The main species landed in Spain are anchovy, blue and red shrimp, sardine, hake and octopus. In France the primary catches are anchovy, sardine, hake, and octopus. In the Mediterranean Sea there are 677 marine protected areas. The results from the detailed mapping for 97 fisheries are now available.

The mapping analysis and pre-assessments are being conducted by independent bodies, SAI Global in France and Acoura Marine in Spain.

Invitation to participate

The MSC and WWF are inviting anyone with an interest in fisheries management in the Mediterranean to get involved in the project by emailing
The Project Medfish has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Daniel & Nina Carasso Foundation, the Resources Legacy Fund and the Adessium Foundation.