Protocol signed between SPOT and the North Cyprus Ministry for Agriculture and Natural Resources to strengthen mutual collaboration towards sustainable fisheries

In September, SPOT signed a protocol with the North Cyprus Ministry for Agriculture and Natural Resources. This protocol aims to strengthen mutual collaboration towards sustainable fisheries, so that fisheries livelihoods can be supported with minimal impact on vulnerable species. SPOT have been working with support of this Ministry since they made fisheries sustainability one of their key strategies over a decade ago.

Capacity in this area has increased during the last five years with the support of MAVA Foundation through Cyprus Bycatch Project, Conservation of Mediterranean Monk Seals Project and Cyprus Elasmobranch Research and Conservation Network (CERECON). With this support, SPOT reported on nearly a thousand fishing trips and found a diversity and high rates of elasmobranch and sea turtle bycatch. They fostered the development of a small-scale fisheries co-management platform, and worked on new policy, advocating for the first MPAs and protection for sharks and rays from trade. They successfully advocated against the development of a fishing harbour close to the regions only known monk seal breeding site. They developed technical solutions to reduce sea turtle bycatch and they are now rolling out those solutions, while finalising a pilot project to implement legislation and eliminate illegal fishing. None of this would have been possible without the strong support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Livestock Department.

In recognition of these important steps for the Turkish Cypriot fishery, in September 2021, these two entities agreed to strengthen their long-term collaboration. And with this protocol the two sides committed to collaborating specifically on:

  1. working together to develop and improve sustainable fisheries management
  2. performing research and generating solutions towards resolving wildlife and fisheries conflict, esp. towards conserving threatened species; and
  3. awareness raising about threatened species, marine environments and their importance not only through the community but also within the governance.

The agreement is a strong step toward securing the legacy of MAVA’s support after it closes in 2022.

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