General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Bridging the gap between the global and local: Regional fisheries innovations around the world

The International Symposium on Fisheries Sustainability: Strengthening the Science-Policy Nexus kicked off today in Rome with a GFCM side event on Innovative approaches at the regional level and their contribution to sustainable fisheries and the conservation of marine ecosystems.


Rome | This side event, attended by more than 100 representatives, built on the success of the 2018 GFCM Fish Forum to highlight the role played by regional organizations in supporting sustainable ecosystem-based management of marine living resources. 

It gave voice to new initiatives and innovations at the regional level, in particular relating to: a) scientific research towards better fisheries management; b) modular monitoring, control and surveillance to fight IUU fishing, and c) addressing environmental issues.

In recent years, the role of regional organizations has taken prominence on the international stage, bolstered by continued work, in line with the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement which highlights that these organizations provide an essential link between scientists and policy-makers and therefore play a crucial role in in translating global objectives into local implementation. 

This link is essential to the work of FAO and to its established regional fisheries management organization” said Abdellah Srour, Executive Secretary of the GFCM. “As an organization, we serve as a neutral forum to bring together relevant actors to discuss issues related to international cooperation and multi-stakeholder approaches to fisheries and aquaculture management”.

Key commercial fisheries have been in decline over the last 50 years, with decades of overfishing taking a toll not just on the health of the oceans, but also on human livelihoods and global food security. Migratory fish and marine currents do not pay heed to the boundaries and borders of humankind”, Nathalie Degger, Deputy Project Manager and Training Specialist for the International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network (IW:LEARN) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) added, “thus our regional endeavours are crucial to good governance of the Ocean and its living resources.”

Alejandro Anganuzzi, Global Coordinator of Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna Project of FAO highlighted innovation in research towards enhancing fisheries management: "Innovation is not just new technology, it´s also a process. Innovation does not grow on trees, incentives & enabling conditions need to be present. Involvement of the private sector & civil society is key".

David Agnew, Executive Secretary of CCAMLR gave examples of the most recent developments in the field of fisheries technology to track fishing vessels, including small-scale fishing vessels, and to support countries and regional fisheries management organizations in preventing and deterring illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing: “A combination of surveillance, enforcement and market controls have significantly reduced IUU fishing that undermines the CCAMLR’s conservation measures”. 

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion on the above issues and on the progress made in adaptation to and mitigation of climate change and other anthropogenic impacts on the marine environment. Panelists included Alejandro Anganuzzi, David Agnew,  Beth Fulton (Research Group Leader, CSIRO, Australia), David Kroodsma (Director of Research and Innovation, Global Fishing Watch), Mitchell Lay (Fisher and Program Coordinator, CNFO and GCFI, Belize), Ana Parma (Principal Researcher, CONICET, Argentina), Francisco Werner (Chief Science Advisor and Director of Science Programs, NOAA, USA) and Miguel Bernal (Senior Fishery Officer, GFCM). 

The key messages from this event will feed the discussions within the FAO International Symposium.