Adverse impact is tempered by positive developments
The most important EU ﬂeet in the Mediterranean has been declining in size for some years. Effort in terms of days at sea has been reduced and catch volumes and values have declined since 2004 with a slight uptick in 2013. The corona pandemic showed the resilience and innovative spirit of the industry as ﬁshers found alternate ways of doing business as the traditional supply chain broke down.
With almost 12,000 vessels (2019) the Italian fleet is still among the largest in the Mediterranean although the number of boats, gross tonnage, and power have declined by 19%, 27% and 23% respectively since 2004. Of the total number of vessels, the small-scale fishing fleet (SSCF), vessels less than 12 m, accounted for just over two thirds while vessels operating with towed gears, demersal trawlers and beam trawlers, constituted 17%. Other fleet segments include dredgers (6%), purse seiners (8%), long liners (2%), passive polyvalent gears (3%) and pelagic trawlers (1%). In terms of gross tonnage the trawling vessels account for almost 60% of the total making it the largest fleet segment by this measure. Purse seiners, vessels that also target bluefin tuna, account for 8% of national tonnage, while other segments contribute 2% to 5% of national tonnage. Italy also has a distant water fleet comprising 9 vessels—8 bottom trawlers and 1 purse seiner.
The Italian aquaculture sector has a long history starting first in the coastal lagoons and then, as technology became available, expanding both inland and along the coast. While the freshwater production of trout is in terms of volume by far the most important, other freshwater species such as sturgeon and eels are also produced in significant volumes.
The fish market at Chioggia is one of the biggest in the region. Transport bottlenecks constrain its expansion and the authorities would like to move it to an area that is better connected to the road network.
The Italian production of fasolari (Callista chione) takes place in the Northern Adriatic waters, falling in the two Italian regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto and is managed at compartmental level (sub-regional level) by the Consortia (CO.GE.VO.) of Chioggia, Venice and Monfalcone. Here the system is based on a co-management approach. The system is based on the integration between the management system (Consortia) and the marketing system (POs). The three above mentioned Consortia work in a coordinated manner by adhering to the same PO, named OP I Fasolari.
In contrast to fisheries in the North Atlantic fisheries in the Mediterranean are characterised by the multitude of species and the varieties of gear that are used to target them. Italian catches in the Mediterranean (together with Turkey’s) are the biggest of the approximately 30 countries whose fleets fish these waters.
Over the past few years, national seafood production has been steadily declining until 2013; in 2014, a slight increase in the quantity was recorded with a production of 325,000 tonnes of seafood. In terms of value, the negative trend continued also in 2014. This decline affects both marine fisheries and aquaculture. Molluscs are still the main product of the national aquaculture sector; the main harvest is of mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and clams (Tapes philippinarum).
Riccardo Rigillo, General Director, Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies represents Italy in the negotiations on a multinational, multiannual management plan for the Central Mediterranean. A plan is necessary to safeguard certain valuable stocks, such as crustaceans, and to point fisheries in the Mediterranean in the direction of sustainability.