15 marine conservation NGOs from Spain and Portugal, including Seas At Risk members Sciaena, LPN, GEOTA, Quercus and ENT Foundation, have agreed to coordinate their work on key marine conservation issues. Their first joint meeting took place on 11 June 2018 and discussed Iberian sardine stock, deep sea fishing opportunities and full implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy.  

Nature does not comply with man-made boundaries, and Portuguese and Spanish fishermen have long shared fishing stocks. Iberian NGOs recognise the need to collaborate closely to improve the health of marine ecosystems in the region, given the deep geographical, biological, social, economic and political connection between Spain and Portugal. The recent collapse of sardine stock, for example, was a stark reminder of the need for greater cooperation in the region.   

The marine conservation NGOs agreed that full implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy is crucial. The Portuguese and Spanish Ministries must take the lead in Europe and follow the best available scientific advice to restore and maintain fish populations at sustainable levels by 2020. In the past, Portugal and Spain have often been reluctant to respect the Common Fisheries Policy, and the Iberian NGOs are seeking to meet with the European Commissioner of the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, to discuss the gravity of the situation in the region.

The Portuguese and Spanish NGOs agreed that both countries need to be more proactive in promoting sustainable management of small-scale and low-impact fisheries, and to work closely together towards sound management of the Natura 2000 network. The challenges faced in Iberian waters go far beyond fisheries, with marine litter, oil and gas extraction plans, unsustainable river basin management, and pollution all requiring joint action. The Iberian NGOs thus agreed to compile a list of cooperation areas, as well as creating a shared communication platform to increase their capacity to deal with these environmental challenges.   

sardine