Mediterranean fish are in troubled waters

A survey of the Mediterranean Sea has revealed that the fish population is dwindling at an alarming rate, with serious consequences for the fishing industry, scientists said yesterday. Research over the last 10 years that has been conducted as part of the International Bottom Trawl Survey in the Mediterranean (MEDITS) has found that large fish, young fish and lobsters in particular are under threat. «The tastes of consumers, which drive demand in the market, are what are responsible for the declining population of many types of fish,» said Argyris Kallianiotis, the head of the Institute for Fisheries Research (INALE) which is based near the city of Kavala in northern Greece. He told Kathimerini that big fish, such as cod, which used to swim unperturbed at depths of 80 to 100 meters, are suffering because fishermen are going ever deeper to secure their catches. Some types of fish, such as sargo and blackfish, have been forced deeper to avoid fishing nets. They are currently found at a depth of some 40 meters in the Mediterranean, researchers have discovered. «If the bio-societies do not work, the balance is upset and there is a distinct danger that some types of fish will disappear from Greek seas,» Kallianiotis told Kathimerini. He said that the rapid reduction in the number of monkfish in the Aegean Sea had led to a drastic increase in the number of tiny shrimp that they usually feed on. They have multiplied at the expense of other types of fish, the scientist said. Kallianiotis called for specific research to be conducted in Greek waters, as opposed to the Mediterranean as a whole, to establish which types of fish need to be protected.