Over the last few years, the issue of excess fishing capacity has received a lot of attention worldwide. It follows from decades of effort to deal with the degradation of fish stocks and the related issue of overexploitation without due consideration being paid to the direct or indirect effect of fleet capacity. Fishing capacity can be defined for a given fleet as the amount of fishing effort that can be produced over a given period of time (e.g. a year) under full time utilization (i.e. assuming normal utilization, unrestricted by catch or effort constraints). Excessive fishing capacity, in the form of excess fleet size leads to economic waste. If catches are not regulated or poorly regulated, it may also lead to the degradation of fishery resources and the dissipation of food production potential. The impact of excessive fishing capacity on the biological and economic condition of many fisheries throughout the world has been a matter of growing concern.
Although the use of the term fishing capacity is increasingly widespread, its definition varies among countries and institutions and the related assessment and management aspects are not always familiar. In the Adriatic region, as well as in the whole Mediterranean, the issue of fishing capacity is relatively new.
The relevance of the fishing capacity issue is often referred to and highlighted in the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. References to it may be found in several Articles of the Code such as Article 6 (at section 6.1, 6.3), Article 7, which deals specifically with Fisheries Management. (7.1.8, 7.2.1, 7.2.2, 7.4.3, 7.6.3, 7.6.5). The International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity was developed on this basis and adopted by COFI in 1999.
Fishery management is one of the components of the AdriaMed Project and the fishing capacity issue is regarded as a relevant aspect. This topic was discussed during the last meeting of the AdriaMed Coordination Committee (Tirana, Albania, 21-23 November 2001). It is specifically addressed in paragraphs 63, 64 and 65 of the adopted report (AdriaMed Technical Documents TD.7).
Consequently, AdriaMed organized a Seminar on Fishing Capacity Definition, Measurement and Assessment. The Seminar was run together with the staff from the Fishery Policy and Planning Division of FAO and it also focused on the characteristics of Mediterranean fisheries. The participants were fishery biologists, economists, managers and representatives of the fishery associations.