A thoughtful post about IUU fishing in Mediterranean waters and a reminder that illegal fishing does not just happen in the EEZs of developing countries. Further, IUU fishing is not attributable to monster ships only: some artisanal and leisure fishermen do breach regulations devised to protect fish stocks from overexploitation, sometimes using destructive methods such as drift nets and monofilament. In all, IUU fishing represents a great and persistent risk to anyone whose long-term interests depend on a productive ocean.
The nature and extent of IUU fishing in the Mediterranean Sea is not clearly known at present. It is known, however, that these dubious activities are becoming a common practice in recent years. Mediterranean Flag states currently report several IUU fishing related issues mostly related to the Mediterranean fleet. In 2013 the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) identified purse seine, trawl and driftnets as the gears that are mostly involved in IUU fishing. Repeated serious infringements related to the use of driftnets were documented in Italy, showing the extent of illegal activities by over 300 Italian driftnetters. A ban on small scale driftnets in the Mediterranean would allow closing the current regulatory loopholes that illegal fishing operators have abundantly used to elude controls.