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General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)

Technical assistance and cooperation

GFCM Framework Programme (FWP)

The FWP will represent the foundation of a continuous process ensuring that fisheries and aquaculture play a key role in the sustainable development of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea from an economic, a social and an environmental point of view. In fact, the FWP has been envisaged as a platform that will promote sustainable development and cooperation in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea through muli-annual and multi-donor arrangements. It will also strengthen intra-institutional cooperation and coordination in matters relating to marine capture fisheries and aquaculture at regional level through the implementation of a series of work packages that will involve partner organizations on the basis of Memoranda of Understanding adopted at the 36th Session of the GFCM (Marrakech, May 2012). 

PDF > First GFCM Framework Programme (2013-2018) in support of Task Force Activities (FWP)

Technical Assistance and Cooperation

GFCM FWP - 01 - Governance

© FAO/Nastasi

Improving governance and fisheries management in the GFCM Area consistent with an integrated maritime approach 

Due to increasing stresses on marine ecosystems and marine biodiversity (including on the high seas) resulting from many human activities, the need for better environmental governance has been repeatedly recognized at both international and regional level. This is justified by several reasons, including the emergence of the concept of marine spatial planning as a result of increasingly emerging conflicts in the use of marine spaces. In this very context policies such as the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries and management tools such as Marine Protected Areas and artificial reefs are regarded as key measures contributing to this demand for governance. This is because they are exceedingly useful for the recovery of overexploited and depleted stocks as well as for the conservation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity, while being helpful in zoning coastal areas at the same time, thus reducing conflicting interests among users. At the same time, opportunities exist to expand intra-institutional coordination with various partner organizations and with FAO Regional Projects. If made use of, these opportunities would contribute to a more efficient environmental governance of the GFCM Area by exploiting synergies and avoiding duplications.

Current issues
Pressures for human activities more lucrative than marine capture fisheries and aquaculture in coastal zone areas have become particularly acute in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea where the semi-enclosed nature of these seas requires the development of marine spatial planning for the whole region. As a result, and owing to the fact that a portion of the GFCM Area is high seas, legal considerations are to be accounted for when regulating activities occurring beyond national jurisdictions. This work programme could hence represent a much needed opportunity to integrate policies relating to marine capture fisheries and aquaculture with other relevant policies. One of the main issues to be addressed by this work programme is that of giving prominence to a sub-regional approach capable of considering tailored solutions, such as the adoption of multiannual management plans, in the GFCM Area.

Rationale for intervention
To improve governance in the GFCM Area the understanding of the relationships between environmental and socio-economic issues is necessary. This work programme should hence involve all main users of marine spaces in the GFCM Area, beginning with fishermen and aquaculture farmers. An efficient way to do this is to build upon the cooperative framework established between the GFCM and partner organizations on the basis of provisions in adopted Memoranda of Understanding. Similarly, ongoing cooperation with FAO Regional Projects is expected to be reinforced by this work programme. Better cooperation will enable, at a later stage, to distinguish users of marine spaces in the GFCM Area according to, inter alia, socio-economic interactions and environmental impacts. It is foreseen that a participatory approach will make this work programme legitimate to the extent that consensus-based decisions for management can be adopted under the work packages identified, including in connection with the elaboration of multiannual management plans. As a result, it will be possible to elicit better compliance with regulations in place.

The overall objective of this work programme is to support a goal-setting process to improve environmental governance through an integrated maritime approach while targeting relevant social, economic and environmental objectives involving stakeholders and local communities.

Technical Assistance and Cooperation

GFCM FWP - 02 - Data collection

Strengthening the capacity of national institutions in the field of data collection and supporting the establishment of regional databases and information systems

Within the remit of the GFCM, data have always been used as the basis for the elaboration of policies. For this very purpose, various types of data have been employed. In addition, sound policy-making in marine capture fisheries requires data on stocks, fleets, vessels activities, biology, economic, monitoring, control and surveillance, etc. Data and information are also necessary for the promotion of sustainable aquaculture, as well as to support GFCM Members in the study of sustainable aquaculture practices and guidelines to be developed. Whereas the GFCM has the responsibility and competence to oversee the full spectrum of statistical tasks, including data collection, quality control, processing, analysis and management together with the dissemination of statistical reports and publications, its mandate to develop and manage regional databases and information systems has been challenged by the availability of data, due in particular to a north-south gap in the GFCM membership. The GFCM has already considered the elaboration of a strategy that could ultimately enable the establishment and the consolidation of a long-term data collection system in the GFCM Area. Nonetheless, clear mapping of the current GFCM Members’ data/information provisions would be beneficial for the GFCM to enable the formulation of even more effective data collection frameworks for management measure formulation purposes. Consistent with the goal of sustainable development, technical assistance should be provided to GFCM Members, in particular developing country GFCM Members, to improve their interaction with the GFCM Secretariat and ensure both timely and correct submission of data (in terms of validity and integrity) and to facilitate decision-making processes at national and regional levels.

© FAO/Massa

Current issues

Over the last few years, the GFCM Secretariat has built up an Information System for collecting, processing and managing data/information on marine capture fisheries and aquaculture aiming at providing Members with efficient tools in support of the rational management of resources. All the nine components of the existing GFMC data collection framework (namely SIPAM, Dolphin Fish, IUU, Red Coral, Registered Ports, STATLANT 37A, Task 1, VMS and Vessel Records, were designed, released, implemented and maintained in support of relevant GFCM decisions. At the 12th session of the Sub-Committees of SAC (Rome, 23-26 January 2012) it was recommended that the STATLANT 37A reporting form is used until the completion of Task 1, whose revision has also been agreed upon. With regard to FAO-STATLANT 47A (capture fisheries) on the other hand, the GFCM Secretariat has taken over the responsibilities related to its management and to the data processing from the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Statistics and Information. The GFCM data collection system, as supplemented by data from direct research and surveys, has been hence conceived of as a pillar for management. However, although submission protocols for the different data reporting requirements have been already established, and they are to be used by GFCM Members to lodge data with the GFCM Secretariat, data submission originators often cope with diverse technological/human constraints. As a result, there is a lack of a unique, streamlined data submission workflow at present. This has led in most cases to the implementation of multiple data reporting formats to address these unbalanced factors. At the same time, the flow of information from GFCM Members to the GFCM Secretariat depends on the figures of deployed personnel at national level, as well as to their qualifications. 

Rationale for intervention
Some GFCM Members have already requested technical assistance from the GFCM to overcome the difficulties that they are facing in complying with current data submission requirements. In addition, and with regard to VMS data, this work programme could facilitate the possible development of other tools that could assist GFCM Members in monitoring, control and carry out surveillance related activities, such as the use of the Global Positioning System. In light of this, and considering that the sources of data and information are the GFCM Members themselves, it is evident that such technical assistance could play a major role in the achievement of sustainable development. Consequently, support must be readily available, with all the human and financial resources necessary, and reasonably synchronized with national needs and regional requirements and commitments. At present, and more generally speaking, the statistical and data collection frameworks of the GFCM are well defined and a statistics/information systems unit within the GFCM Secretariat is already in place. Thus, this work programme focuses in providing technical assistance to GFCM Members, their decision makers and managers at both national and sub-regional levels. The rationale for such intervention is based on past experience by the GFCM Secretariat which actively participated in the implementation of FAO Regional Projects linked to data (e.g. CopeMed, MedFisis, EastMed, AdriaMed, MedSudMed). Consequently, this work programme will also concern data availability and data collection related responsibilities, consistent with the objective of strengthening synergies with these FAO Regional Projects.

The overall objective of this work programme is to facilitate the development of a region-wide, compatible and integrated data collection and information system for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea based on enhanced and standardized national fishery statistics systems. During the first stage of the work programme, an assessment of the current situation in terms of (i) compliance level, (ii) difficulties faced by GFCM Members and (iii) availability of data at national level will be carried out. The information system would be developed at a subsequent stage. 

Technical Assistance and Cooperation

GFCM FWP - 03 - Aquaculture

Promoting the role of aquaculture for food security and economic growth

© FAO/Massa

Aquaculture has been on GFCM’s agenda since its early years of activities until, to cope with the increasing importance of the sector, in 1995 the CAQ was established to enhance the sustainable development and responsible management of aquaculture. In order for GFCM to assist its Members in fully exploiting the potential of aquaculture, various issues will have to be addressed, including competition for the use of coastal zones, environmental impacts of aquaculture activities, lack of specific legislation frameworks, consumers’ perception of product quality and market competition among GFCM Members and imported products. Because aquaculture represents a viable alternative to marine capture fisheries in providing sources of food, and to a greater extent a pillar of sustainable fisheries, the need for innovative tools for harmonizing, monitoring and guiding this sector are urgently needed.

Current issues
It is widely recognized that shared fishery resources, coastal aquaculture and other activities which commonly straddle the boundary between land and sea, need an integrated approach. The traditional lack of sectoral integration (i.e. planning and implementation) could lead, inter alia, to competition and conflicts over marine spaces and uses among concerned people in the coastal zone. In addition, aquaculture may be seriously affected by water quality and habitat degradation caused by other human activities and may affect the environment and the interests of other users as a result of its impacts (e.g. a poorly sited or planned aquaculture may result in negative feed-back, bad public image of its environmental impact and self pollution).

Rationale for intervention
Since the GFCM mandate in dealing with and managing marine capture fisheries and aquaculture gives the GFCM a comparative advantage to be a key stakeholder in the region, this work programme would be endowed with strong legitimacy and representation as features of all its work packages. At present, the GFCM is already implementing several regional marine capture fisheries and aquaculture projects through: 
i) indicators for Sustainable Development of Aquaculture and Guidelines for their use in the Mediterranean – InDAM;
ii) development of site selection and carrying capacity guidelines for Mediterranean aquaculture within aquaculture appropriate areas – SHoCMed; and
iii) Mediterranean coastal lagoons management: interactions between aquaculture and marine capture fisheries – LaMed (component 2)
These projects provide a convenient platform to build upon results achieved thus far. Still, there is room to make stakeholders’ participation more effective. To this end work packages identified under this work programme will focus on improving site selection by setting up of allocated zones for aquaculture, assessing aquaculture regulatory framework and licensing procedures, promoting national capacity building on marine aquaculture, assessing the production capacity and potential for improvement, promoting new farming technologies and species and harmonizing monitor of environmental data related to aquaculture.

The overall objective of this work programme is to support the development of sustainable aquaculture for food security and economic growth with particular reference to coastal communities. This work programme will be also linked to a tentative Ministerial Conference on aquaculture in the Mediterranean and Black Sea which could be scheduled for 2013. Within this overall objective, one of the goals to be implemented will be the protection of the environment and common heritage in coastal lagoons through sustainable aquaculture and rational fisheries management, with a wider use of the territory. 

Technical Assistance and Cooperation

GFCM FWP - 04 - Artisanal fisheries

Enhancing the development of artisanal fisheries. Assessing the status of recreational fisherie

© Tonachella

Although it is acknowledged that a common and universal accepted definition of artisanal fisheries - also called small-scale fisheries - is still to be agreed upon, both terms have been broadly used to refer to small, often underdeveloped, poor and marginalized fishing communities whose livelihood depends mainly on in-shore fishing activities and the use of small boats coupled with selective low-impact fishing gear. The importance of world artisanal fisheries cannot, however, be underestimated: with a production accounting for more than 45% of the total global catch and more than 100 million fishermen and workers employed, almost half of which are women, small-scale fisheries generate income and significantly contribute to food security and poverty alleviation. Besides, several recent GFCM studies showed that coastal artisanal fisheries support better sustainability and biodiversity conservation: by using more selective gear, artisanal fisheries tend to be more efficient and usually have less impact on resources with smaller by-catch compared to many industrial fisheries. This in turn fosters the recovery of marine stocks, whilst gear selectivity also provides an adaptive diversification of business, hence allowing small-scale fishermen to remain economically profitable over time. Within this context, and since the adoption of GFCM Resolution 15/1980/1 “on the definition of a regional strategy for the management of artisanal fisheries”, the GFCM has been implementing the following key principles related to artisanal fisheries: 

i)      the definition of a strategy indicating in particular the role of artisanal fisheries  management schemes;
ii)     the establishment of coastal land use plans by type of use; 
iii)    the formulation of practical management schemes; and 
iv)    the strengthening of links between fishermen, research scientists and administrators by establishing a multi disciplinary platform for discussion and decision.

Current issues
Marginalization and limited access to resources, exclusion of public policy processes and decision making, overfishing, lack of data and data collection capacity, as well as poverty and high vulnerability of fishing communities, are just a few examples of issues that sector is to deal with. In addition, artisanal fishing is still not properly taken into consideration during negotiating processes at a regional level and its interaction with other coastal activities in the same area requires special attention. That is why strengthening small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea remains a major challenge of uttermost importance to the GFCM. Issues relating to control in small scale fishing are also topical in light of the phased development within GFCM of a centralized VMS system. Such a system will have to be modular in nature so that artisanal fishing is also taken into consideration. A different but yet similar issue is that of recreational fishing. In the Mediterranean and the Black Sea the impacts of recreational fishing activities is always overlooked. This should not be equated however to a lack of severity. On the contrary, studies carried out by the GFCM have already shown that recreational fishing has an impact that calls for sound regulation. The FWP intends to come to grips with this issue.

Rationale for intervention
As of the year of its establishment and within its objective of coordinating the efforts of GFCM Members for effective management of fisheries at the regional level, the GFCM has been continuously working on artisanal fisheries. Most notably, after the adoption of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in 1995, the GFCM has strived to play a crucial economic and social role within its area of competence, where roughly 45 000 small scale fishing boats currently offer different employment opportunities to several thousands of people. Priorities of GFCM Members will be reconsidered only if the importance of artisanal fisheries for food security and employment is properly recognized, whilst a multi-sectoral approach among fisheries agencies and better institutional cooperation could enhance the information available on small-scale fisheries and lay the foundation for sound management. In light of the need to formalize and improve the management of regional artisanal fisheries this work programme could represent an appropriate solution. More precisely, it would foster, inter alia, fishermen’s organizations and contribute to consolidate the sustainable management of marine resources. This should be achieved through innovative co-management regimes which would give voice to the most marginalized and would stand as a middle ground between top-down and bottom-up approaches, bringing about the advantages of more participatory processes in fisheries planning and management.

The overall objective of this work programme would be to steer strategic and programmatic interventions to improve the livelihoods and sustainability of small-scale coastal fishing communities within the GFCM Area, including in support of fishermen’ organizations and via the setting up of co-management regimes, while pursuing sustainability of the sector and conservation of biodiversity. For this very purpose, recreational fishing also deserves programmatic actions to be promoted within the FWP. 

Technical Assistance and Cooperation

GFCM FWP - 05 - Cooperation

Supporting institutional and technical cooperation in the Southern Mediterranean and in the Black Sea

© FAO/Napolitano

As it is stated in the Preamble to the GFCM constitutive Agreement, GFCM Members have a common interest in the development and proper utilization of the marine living resources in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, as well as in connecting waters. Arguably though, the degree of presence and intervention by the GFCM in the Southern Mediterranean and in the Black Sea need to be intensified for several reasons. As far as the Southern Mediterranean is concerned, the Greater Maghreb region and Egypt have recently experienced significant political instability. Consequently, assisting the Greater Maghreb region and Egypt in their efforts at momentous social and economic reforms is of paramount importance for the GFCM. Also, cooperation and support provided by the GFCM could contribute to address, inter alia, the migration issues which have been exacerbated by the said political instability. The present state of affairs could prove particularly favourable to the promotion of marine capture fisheries and aquaculture as sectors that can contribute to jobs creation in the Greater Maghreb region and Egypt. With regard to the Black Sea on the other hand, this marine area is used for many human activities ranging from fishing to mineral extraction and marine transport. Human associated contamination is a huge threat to it to and consequently for the conservation of Black Sea fisheries as well as for the development of aquaculture in the region. The difficulties faced by the management of fisheries in particular, coupled with a general poor coastal zone management, have been hindering sustainable development in the Black Sea, with particular reference to the coastal communities.

Current issues
Bearing in mind the most immediate needs of the Southern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, special attention is inter alia needed to: 
i)      reduce unemployment, especially for young people; 
ii)     facilitate dialogues among all riparian States; 
iii)    identifying priority research  needs in the fields of fisheries science, fishing technology and coastal aquaculture; 
iv)    improving and developing studies related to the stock assessment while strengthening capacity building; 
v)     undertaking discussions on strategy options for marine capture fisheries and aquaculture; 
vi)    improving interactions between GFCM activities with other activities carried out under relevant international organizations and FAO Regional Projects.
These issues could be all properly addressed through an integrated approach.

Rationale for intervention
In the Southern of Mediterranean, and as far as the GFCM is concerned, there is an established framework of cooperation aimed at fostering sub-regional approaches in fisheries research and management. Suffice to recall the “Coordination to Support Fisheries Management in the Western and Central Mediterranean” (CopeMed) project which has been contributing to the sustainability of marine capture fisheries for more than ten years, taking into consideration environmental, social and economic issues. The importance of cooperation was also recognized within GFCM in connection with the Black Sea: in the 2008 document prepared by the GFCM “Strengthening Cooperation in the Black Sea”, as well as in the 2010 document “Status of GFCM actions on the Black Sea”, some rationale for intervention was provided by referring to the training of field staff, fisheries Information System and statistics (port offices, VMS and information centre) and legal issues. Ultimately, an ad hoc Working Group for the Black Sea, which held its first meeting in January 2012, has been set up to zero in on the Black Sea. In light of relevant past experiences this work programme will, to begin with, expand upon those areas of intervention that were already identified and initiate work packages in their support which are complementary to other work packages under the preceding four work programmes.

The overall objective of this work programme is to evaluate and then to address the needs and expectations relating to the sustainable development of marine capture fisheries and aquaculture in the Southern Mediterranean and the Black Sea by supporting institutional and technical cooperation. As the objective is to foster cooperation, all initiatives to underpin such cooperation will be promoted, including with partner organizations and FAO Regional Projects. Other GFCM sub-regions could be also addressed, as appropriate, consistent with the approach of this work programme.