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Fishermen require better law enforcement

Fishermen require better law enforcement

Fishing activity, especially small scale and recreational activities near the marine protected area, remains an issue that increasingly requires cooperation between local actors. EU projects implemented in recent years in the Vlora region, including the Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park, have brought to the attention of experts some positive practices aiming to enhance cooperation between all these actors, in order to benefit both in terms of good management of a marine protected area, as well as the sustainable development of small scale fishing, having a positive influence on the socio-economic impact of the fishing community living near the MPA.
For this purpose, with co-financing from the European Fund for Regional Development in the framework of the Interreg Med Program of the European Union, INCA has initiated the activities of the project "MPA NETWORKS - Supporting the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) through strong and cooperative networks in Mediterranean ”(moreover https://mpa-networks.interreg-med.eu/). The project was presented to the actors and partners in a meeting organized at the premises of the Visitor Center, Radhimë, on June 6, 2020.
Improving the sustainability of small scale and recreational fisheries management in the Karaburun-Sazan MPA is the challenge of this project for Albania. Through informative and consultative meetings with the fisherman community, but also with other responsible actors at the local level, the project aims to better understand the situation in small scale and recreational fishing. The meetings help the actors, to  face with each other, to have the opportunity to express and share concerns, as well as to create bridges of cooperation and communication between them for an interaction in function of the sustainable development of a small scale and recreational fishing as well as the protection of marine biodiversity and the effective management of the MPA.
But the problems that fishermen face today are numerous. In the consultative meeting organized on June 12, 2020 in the premises of the Fishing Center Rradhimë, Vlora, the community of fishermen presented some of the most worrying problems that are negatively affecting marine resources and sought the short term and most effective solutions from state institutions that play a primary role in the management of the fisheries sector, but also in the management of marine ecosystems. In the presence of the harbor Master and Regional Administration for Protected Areas, a number of key issues were mentioned by the fishermen themselves.
First, they raised the concern that the correct implementation of the regulatory framework under the new fisheries law would make it possible to limit licenses with specific criteria for fishermen as well. Amateur fishermen often create problems for some species as they do not follow the fishing criteria for certain species, which is estimated to have brought economic damage. This is also noticed by the estimated changes over the years in the size of fishing effort spent for the same catch amount (fishermen estimate that today they need four time more efforts to catch the same quantity as 10 years ago).
Informality is also seen as problematic issue for this area as out of 60 families that feed on fishing activity, only 20-30 of them have received a fishing license. The creation of fishing groups or cooperatives was proposed by the fishermen community as a necessity for the management of fishermen and fishing under the relevant licenses.
One of the most discussed issues among the fishing community is the high cost of fuel and nets. Fishermen propose a change in the type of vessels (vessels which do not exceed 40 cc) permitted to access marine protected areas.
They acknowledge that illegal activities continue to take place within the Bay of Vlora, and they affect the interests of responsible fishermen as well. Such activities include the use of trawlers, which not only catch deep-sea and benthic fish species, but also destroy nets set up by other fishermen. As for the use of dynamite, although prohibited by law, they claim that there are constantly such cases, but to a lesser extent in the area of Karaburun Sazani. The presence of the military road-block in Orikum, the increased patrolling of the MPA staff, and the development of responsible aquaculture has provided protection of some fishing grounds around the Bay of Vlora.
Fishermen emphasized the shortcomings encountered in the current legal framework regarding sport fishing. In this context, they are looking for more income generating alternatives for their families. Tourism could be an alternative, as the inclusion of artisanal fishing in tourism by creating suitable conditions, would be an important secondary and quite effective source of income for them.
RAPA Vlora, based on some previous experiences, has started the cooperation with fishermen at Karaburun Sazan National Marine Park, allowing fishing on certain days and in specific areas of the MPA and together with them performs the necessary measurements and analysis of the catch (size, weight, shape). This information is useful to understand the differences between various areas in the Bay of Vlora. This practice is considered very important for informing different actors, highlighting the importance that fishermen have in providing information on marine environments, as well as the key role they play in preserving these ecosystems.
INCA in cooperation with the local civil society, as well as the fishermen community itself will continue to promote meetings and consultations of the actors, considering as a necessity the wider participation of state institutions in the hearings with the fishermen as well as a greater cooperation between fishermen in marine areas and the fishing authorities, in order to propose better policies and draft regulatory framework in order to develop sustainable small scale and recreational fishing in a marine protected area such as the Karaburun – Sazan National Marine Park.