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General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)

Activities > Environment and Conservation

Environment and conservation

The GFCM is also fully committed to undertake actions and adopt management measures linked to the safeguard of marine environment and of threatened species in connection with fishing activities.

Marine environmental quality and deep-sea ecosystems

Posidonia meadow © A. Nastasi
Posidonia meadow © A. Nastasi
Mediterranean benthic ecosystem © FAO/GFCM
Mediterranean benthic ecosystem © FAO/GFCM

Together with partner organizations (UNEP/MAP and ICES) the GFCM is one of the regional actors involved in the process to identify sensitive indicators of the good environmental status (GES) in the most possible harmonized way.

The GFCM is also partner of the GEF Common Oceans project executed by FAO/UNEP which main objective is to achieve sustainability in the use of deep-sea living resources and improve biodiversity conservation in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) with special focus on the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) and on the development of area-based planning tools. Check the new FAO VME database, including the GFCM fisheries restricted areas (FRAs).

Furthermore, as MPAs have been widely recognized as a fisheries management tool to protect spawning grounds and nurseries and provide shelter to exploited species, the GFCM has established in 2014 a Working Group on MPAs that will meet regularly to especially discuss about ways to establish coherent networks of MPAs in the Mediterranean basin and possible new GFCM FRAs.

Sharks and rays

Shark © D. Salvatori
Shark © D. Salvatori

The need for a precautionary approach to the management of sharks and rays has been widely highlighted in the last 20 years. In 1999 the FAO adopted the IPOA-Sharks and since than it has undertaken several initiatives to better manage the exploitation of these animals. In 2010 and 2011 the GFCM adopted ad-hoc measures to reduce the by-catch of pelagic sharks such as thresher sharks, mako and hammerhead sharks. In 2012, the GFCM banned finning practices in the Mediterranean and Black Sea and also prohibited the capture and sell of the sharks and rays species listed in Annex II of the SPA/BD Protocol of the Barcelona Convention. In 2010-2013 the GFCM carried out a three-year research programme to improve the knowledge and assess the status of elasmobranchs in the region, and it continues to work in close collaboration with the regional experts to contrast sharks and rays populations’ decline.

Download the full text of the GFCM decisions: Rec. GFCM/34/2010/4 (C) | Rec. GFCM/36/2012/3

Sea turtles, cetaceans and seabirds

Green sea turtle © A. Nastasi
Green sea turtle © A. Nastasi
Bottlenose dolphins © N. Tonachella
Bottlenose dolphins © N. Tonachella
Seagull © N. Tonachella
Seagull © N. Tonachella

In order to ensure the implementation of fisheries management measures that strong reduce the risk of incidental taking also of sea turtles, cetaceans and seabirds during fishing operations specific decisions dealing with the issue of by-catch and data collection were recently adopted by the GFCM.    

Download the full text of the GFCM decisions:
Rec. GFCM/36/2012/2 En
Rec. GFCM/35/2011/3 En
Rec. GFCM/35/2011/4 En
Rec. GFCM/37/2013/2 En

Download the FAO Guidelines to reduce sea turtle mortality in fishing operations En/Sp

Monk seal

Monk seal © N. Tonachella
Monk seal © N. Tonachella

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is considered to be one of the most endangered mammal in the world with some 300–500 remaining individuals. Management measures to protect this critically endangered pinniped are therefore extremely urgent to avoid its extintion. The GFCM has contributed by issuing an ad-hoc decsion to especially protect the monk seal from fisheries and it is currently working to produce the most updated maps indicating the actual occurrence of this species in the Mediterranean.

Donwload the full text of the GFCM decision:
Rec. GFCM/35/2011/5 En