General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Understanding Mediterranean multi-taxa ‘bycatch’ of vulnerable species and testing mitigation - a collaborative approach | Med bycatch project

The incidental capture of vulnerable species in fishing gear (also known generically as ‘bycatch’) is a key conservation issue in the Mediterranean for a number of taxonomic groups, namely sea turtles, marine mammals, seabirds, elasmobranchs and macrobenthic invertebrates. Necessary measures should be taken to minimize and mitigate the negative anthropogenic impacts on marine biodiversity, especially in relation to these vulnerable species and ecosystems. The adoption of these measures requires deep knowledge of the extent of the problem. Typically, data on this issue has been collected in a haphazard manner, at very local levels, in a manner that makes comparison between studies difficult. Consequently, little is known of the scale and scope of the problem, despite bycatch being an important pressure on these species and, in turn, a threat for fisheries in the region.

Therefore, robust monitoring is therefore crucial to better understand the prevalence and distribution of incidental catch events in fisheries. Technical solutions for given fishing gears and/or taxa should be implemented to reduce such threat. Reliable information and reporting, enabled stakeholders and efficient measures will allow scientists and decision-makers to obtain a more complete overview of the situation and set priorities for management action. This will enable the protection of vulnerable species while securing the profitability of fisheries and the sustainability of coastal livelihoods.




Sept. 2017 - Jun. 2020


Morocco · Tunisia · Turkey


Monitor and mitigate incidental catches of vulnerable species




➜ Fishers

➜ National administrators

➜ Policy-makers

➜ Researchers


Building on complementarities of the partners’ respective mandates, joining resources and expertise and striving for best practices and replicability, the Med bycatch project aims to:

  • Address the gaps in knowledge regarding the bycatch of vulnerable species during fishing operations in the Mediterranean through more systematic and standardized data collection as well as capacity-building.
  • Identify and support the testing of mitigation measures to reduce incidental catches and/or mortality of vulnerable species.
  • Raise awareness on the issue of bycatch and provide elements for the formulation of national/regional strategies to reduce incidental catches, preserve vulnerable species and support the sustainability of fisheries.


  • A regional review on available information on incidental catches of vulnerable species in the Mediterranean.

  • Regional protocols for standardized multi-taxa data collection, inclusive of methodological annexes for observations on-board and at landing sites, as well as self-sampling and questionnaires.

  • Training and capacity-building activities on data collection, identification and handling of vulnerable species, including formation of national teams of on-board observers and of fishers on self-sampling methodologies.

  • Data analysis on the impacts of fleet segments on the incidental catch of vulnerable species, and the spatial and temporal distribution of incidental catches for the selected fleet segments.

  • Identification of the typology and a quantitative assessment of current fishing practices pertaining to these fisheries that lead to incidental catch (e.g. fishing area, seasonality, carrying capacity of the vessels, market).

  • Awareness and advocacy initiatives on the impact of the incidental catch of vulnerable species.

  • Testing of mitigation measures, including implementation and monitoring of possible methods and tools in identified fisheries and focus countries.


Understanding and addressing bycatch: key steps for sustainable fisheries



Monitoring incidental catch of vulnerable species in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea: methodology for data collection

Methodology for data collection


Steering Committee

Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS)

General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)

Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Center (SPA/RAC) of the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UN Environment/MAP)

International Union for Conservation of Nature – Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (IUCN-Med)

BirdLife Europe and Central Asia (BL ECA) Project Coordinator

Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles (MEDASSET)

Scientific Committee

Juan-Antonio CAMIÑAS (sea turtles)​
Vero CORTÉS & Rory CRAWFORD (seabirds)​
Vasilis GEROVASILEIOU (corals & sponges)
Ayaka Amaha ÖZTÜRK (cetaceans)​
Jacques SACCHI (gears and mitigation measures)
Fabrizio SERENA (elasmobranchs) 


Sana El Arraf
National Department of Maritime Fisheries (DPM)
Institut National de Recherche Halieutique (INRH)
Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc (GREPOM)

Mohamed Mourad Ben Amor
Mohamed Nejmeddine Bradai
National Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DGPA)
Institut National de Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM)
Association Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO)/BirdLife Tunisia
Ministry of Local Affairs and Environment

Meltem Ok
Sea Turtle Research Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (DEKAMER)
Doğa Derneği/BirdLife Turkey
Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV)
World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-Turkey)


GFCM’s role in the project

Within the Med bycatch project, the GFCM ensures the interaction between vulnerable species and fisheries is closely monitored, guaranteeing the sustainability of project activities. It is responsible for the development, training and application of the standard methodology for data collection; recruits and oversees the work of the national focal points in the focus countries (ultimately responsible for project implementation at the national level); compiles the regional review on incidental catches of vulnerable species; develops and hosts the database that will contain all the data collected throughout the project, contributes to the identification of mitigation measures, data analysis and the post-2020 strategy for bycatch.


Ms Margherita SESSA
Fishery liaison officer

With the financial support of :