3.B.1 Fisheries issues: status of stocks and management of wild resources

The following considerations have been developed from information collected, and evaluations performed during fisheries working groups of the General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean, and through the GEF Fisheries Activity Centre in Romania. They do not pretend to provide a definitive plan of action for Black Sea fisheries. This will have to be developed through more extensive technical consultations between country specialists. It does however provide some main options available at this time for working towards a reconstructed fishery resource base, which places due emphasis on the need for rebuilding of resources where depleted, and opinions that could be taken into account in any joint management action on transboundary fishery resources.

It is clear that the main resources of the Black Sea are transboundary in nature and require cooperative actions. Recent collapse of the fisheries is directly connected with degradation of the water quality and destruction of spawning grounds, opportunistic settlerís outbreaks as well as uncontrolled fisheries practices. However, to date, there has been no international agreement on appropriate levels of fishing by each coastal state, and the current distribution of benefits by coastal country does not well reflect the territorial distribution of resources. It is also clear, although precise estimates of the socioeconomic impacts of the collapse of the fisheries are not available in terms of earnings and employment, that annual catch values for the fishery declined by at least $300 million from the mid 1980ís to early 1990ís. A replacement cost for Turkish fish meal plants alone of $20-$30 million have been estimated, and for the fleet operating in the 1980ís, a replacement value of $500 million has been estimated. Much of this investment is now operating at a loss, and much worse, since it is still largely existent, particularly on the southern coast of the Black Sea, presents a constant threat to the recovery of the fishery. This argument has been made on earlier occasions, without action being taken in most countries to remove excess capacity ,although fleet size has declined somewhat in Northern Black Sea countries due to lack of funds for maintenance, as well as a shortages of funding and a fall in purchasing power of the population, and a lack of marketing facilities in others. The partial recovery of the anchovy stock in the last few years has led to a degree of complacency with respect to the state of the resources, which is completely unwarranted, as can be seen from the following tables. It is this circumstance that a less drastic approach to purchase and decommissioning of surplus fleet capacity is proposed: the placing of an upper limit on fleet capacity which is certainly well in excess of needs, but through a license limitation scheme involving all Black Sea countries, could lead to a joint effort to reduce the number of units through market mechanisms; hopefully aided by donor contributions. One tentative estimate suggests that reducing the fleet by 1/3 would generate net returns to the fisheries sector of close to $100 million annually.

The actions proposed here are not intended however to substitute for any future decisions of the proposed Black Sea Fishery Commission. It is emphasized however, that the need for action in cooperative resource management is an urgent one, and cannot be entirely postponed until the Commission is operating; however desirable it is that this should occur in the near future. It must be stressed that cooperative management on transboundary fishery resources throughout the world is based on proper scientific information and analysis, and it is followed by negotiation on overall yield and fishing effort, and appropriate shares of the allowable catch between all parties.

The following general considerations and recommendations are suggested for serious joint consideration by Black Sea countries.

  1. Set progressively higher targets for use of small pelagic fish directly for human food; and progressively reduce amounts of fish going to fish meal/oil. Operational target suggested is that the proportion of small pelagic fish going to food should be no less than 50% by the year 2000?
  2. We believe it is necessary to license all fishing boats over a total length of (say) 10 m, and issue them with a common Black Sea Fishing License. The number of licenses should be fixed at a level based on the fishing vessels for which there is documentary evidence of operation in the reference year of choice for each countries. No further licenses should be granted without retiring the vessel concerned permanently from the fishery. The intention is that the number of licenses should be progressively reduced during fleet renewal process. A vessel should be replaced with one of equal or lesser fishing power
  3. Introduce policies to encourage reduction in the total number of Black Sea licenses and the total fishing power of the Black Sea fleets, to level where risk of economic overcapacity and biological overexploitation are reduced.
  4. Encourage sale of licenses between countries with overcapacity and those with needs for fleet rebuilding or replacement (in private sector)
  5. There is an urgent need to decide jointly on access areas for national fleets to avoid conflicts.
  6. Any common agreement and evaluation of the resource and the fishery will depend on a common data base collected and maintained in a standard way, both on the resources and the fishing fleets.
  7. There is an urgent need for an equitable system of allocations of either fleet capacity and quotas by fleet/country.

See also

2.B.1 Commercially exploited species
2.B.1 Fish landings and fishing fleet in the Black Sea
3.B.2.1.d Loss or imminent loss of endangered species (fishes)
3.B.2 Protection of Endangered Species and their Habitats
3.B.3 Conservation Areas Management Analysis