Bulgaria: Black Sea Countries Join Forces to Develop Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

A High-Level Conference on Black Sea Fisheries and Aquaculture ended in Sofia on Thursday with the signing of a joint declaration against unregulated fishing. The two-day conference was attended by: Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; Michael Christides, Secretary General of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation; Roumen Porozhanov, Bulgaria's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forests; and agriculture ministers and deputy ministers of the other Black Sea countries.

Two of the six Black Sea nations, Russia and Ukraine, did not sign the joint declaration, Minister Porozhanov told a news briefing after the event. He explained: "You know, there are political differences between the two countries. That is why the Russian delegation, and later the Ukrainian delegation as well, announced that they are not ready to sign the declaration."

Commissioner Vella said all speakers at the conference recognized the need for a strong commitment to protecting the biological resources in the Black Sea. Porozhanov noted that an earlier meeting in Bucharest and the Sofia declaration just signed have given a strong impetus to the joint management of Black Sea resources and ecosystems, as well as relevant scientific research and data collection.

Thursday's meeting also discussed a sustainable fishing project called BlackSea4Fish, the inauguration of the first Eastern European office of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, the fight against illegal fishing in the Black Sea, and the joint efforts of all countries in the region for sustainable management of fish resources in scientifically sound and environmentally friendly ways.

Over 62,000 people in the region are directly or indirectly involved in the fisheries and aquaculture industry, making it a socially significant sector of the economy, Porozhanov said.

According to Vella, four out of every five harvested fishes are caught illegally. He said the fact that Russia and Ukraine did not sign the joint declaration is not a problem because both countries agree with most of its content, and so cooperation will continue "because we all have the same goals."

The conference was organized by the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, which is a division of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Source: BTA, 7 June 2018