Why are we doing this project?

The Mediterranean Sea is a hotspot for biodiversity, home of thousands of species of fish, cetaceans, seabids, crustaceans, molluscs and other invertebrates.

But some marine populations used by humans in the Mediterranean are in a fragile state. There is little data available on fish stocks and, where available, these data show that 78 % of assessed fisheries are overfished*. This situation threatens not only the Mediterranean ecosystem but also the livelihood and economies of coastal communities in Mediterranean countries.

More than 80,000 fishing boats are operating in the Mediterranean Sea, and about 250,000 fishermen are living on this activity in the 20 countries bordering the sea. The Mediterranean fleet is rather small scale, diverse, fragmented and multi-specific: more than 80% of the boats are artisanal (90% in France, 65% in Spain)** and target several species and use several gears on the same fishing trip. Polyvalence is typical of Mediterranean fisheries.

This, combined with a limited access to resources, data and reporting, often prevents Mediterranean fisheries fom improving sustainability.

In general, Mediterranean fisheries probably need better data sets for stock assessments, improved knowledge of the marine environment of the fisheries and progress in the management system. This could have a positive impact on the state of the stocks and ultimately the future of fisheries and communities that depend on them.

Giving these facts, the state of Mediterranean fisheries, the fleet structure and the global lack of data and resources, World Wide Fund and the Marine Stewardship Council have partnered to develop the Medfish project which aims at using the MSC standard as a tool to conduct a rigorous and comprehensive analysis of the state of key Mediterranean fisheries in France and Spain in order to drive management and sustainability improvements.