General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

A robust new strategy for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea

The targets of the new 2030 Strategy of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) are in alignment with blue transformation, a pillar of FAO’s new Strategic Framework

9 July 2021, Rome - An ambitious commitment adopted today by 22 countries plus the European Union aims to secure a sustainable future for fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu opened the launch event, highlighting the strategy’s alignment with FAO’s new Strategic Framework and its importance in these challenging times. The strategy’s launch took place at a virtual meeting, bringing together ministers and high-level representatives from Mediterranean and Black Sea countries.

The launch of the 2030 Strategy of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) comes with the backing of many inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and marks the beginning of a critical decade of development for the two sectors.

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit fisheries and aquaculture activities in the Mediterranean and Black Sea hard, with substantial decreases in operations, production and drastic drops in prices for aquatic products,” Qu said. “In building back, we must ensure that recovery efforts focus on the long-term sustainability and resilience of the sector.”

Qu commended the GFCM for helping Members address the significant challenges that Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries currently face. He noted that the new 2030 GFCM Strategy will play a key role in addressing them further, as well as in protecting livelihoods derived from small-scale fisheries. He also highlighted FAO’s readiness to support the efforts of the GFCM, including through its COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme. The Director-General stated that the new FAO Strategic Framework for the next decade provides a clear path to sustainably transform all agri-food systems - including fisheries and aquaculture - to make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.

In his speech, Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, stressed the need for countries to continue working together to protect their seas and oceans, while Foteini Arampatzi, Greece’s Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Food, highlighted the impact of COVID-19 before officially declaring the event open.



Building on our heritage, creating our future

Support for livelihoods

Fisheries and aquaculture play a vital role in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region, supporting hundreds of thousands of livelihoods and providing nutritious food for millions. However, the sectors face increasing challenges from climate change, overfishing and IUU fishing, and serious action is needed to preserve the fish stocks and other resources, on which so many people depend.

The last five years have seen encouraging progress. The GCFM has adopted a solid body of conservation and management measures to protect marine living resources and convenes a number of technical meetings that pioneer the development of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and the protection of marine ecosystems at regional and sub-regional level. Bottom-up engagement with fishers on the ground and leading-edge technical input from scientists and other experts have been backed by ministerial commitments on improved fisheries governance and funding for the fast-growing aquaculture sector.

The GFCM 2030 Strategy will take this progress to the next level, building on the lessons learned so far and accelerating efforts to meet the many challenges that remain. It is the result of a participatory process involving all GFCM member countries and wide stakeholder consultation, which has ensured that it deals with real issues and addresses the most pressing priorities across both sectors.

In his keynote speech, GFCM’s Executive Secretary Abdellah Srour drew attention to the achievements made so far and lauded the new Strategy an important framework for future action, adding that its approval was a defining moment in the Commission’s history.


GFCM 2030 Strategy for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea (EN | FR)

GFCM 2030 Strategy Action Plan



GFCM 2030 Strategy for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture 
in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea 
2 Seas, 1 vision | 5 Targets

Far more than just an aspirational vision, the 2030 Strategy has clearly defined aims and is rooted in practical actions. These fall under five central targets.


The first is focused on creating productive fisheries in healthy seas. The 2030 Strategy takes an integrated approach towards the many threats to the marine environment, working to conserve biodiversity and provide maximum sustainably yields, on the basis of enhanced oriented research and data collection in support of science-based fisheries management plans.


Good fisheries management needs effective compliance and enforcement mechanisms, and these are the focus of the second of the targets. The Strategy lays the ground for GFCM members to take strong action against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, stamping out crime and ensuring only legal products reach the market. Centralized monitoring, control and surveillance technology, with joint compliance and enforcement policies transposed into national laws, create a level playing field for legitimate fishers.


Meanwhile aquaculture has its own unique requirements, and these inform the third target. While creating long-term governance and responsible investment frameworks, the Strategy promotes new technology and best practices through the GFCM’s regional knowledge-sharing hubs and aquaculture demonstration centres. Their work will further strengthen sector resilience and sustainability against a backdrop of continued growth, and encourage community involvement in its development.


Thriving communities and better livelihoods right along the value chain – particularly in small-scale fisheries, the backbone of the industry – are the fourth target. The GFCM is finding new ways to help fishers improve their revenues, from increasing the value of their catches to diversifying their activities – and by making fisheries sustainable in the long term, the revenues will be sustainable too. On shore, greater involvement in local management decisions and stronger social protection structures will both contribute to making fisher livelihoods more secure.


Finally, one of the GFCM’s greatest strengths is the way in which it brings together a hugely diverse range of actors, from governments and fishers to academia and NGOs, all of whom have important contributions to make to shared objectives. The fifth target is focused on using GFCM expertise and convening power to build capacity and provide technical support at the national and subregional levels to ensure policy commitments made by the GFCM Membership are met, establishing a level playing field across the region.


Cross-cutting concerns

Other important areas cut across the Strategy targets and are embedded in its DNA. The role of women and young people in fisheries and aquaculture is one of these: the plan contains a series of measures to promote equal opportunities for women across the board, and to substantially increase vocational youth training to support the fishing communities of the future.


Small-scale fisheries represent the overwhelming majority of fishing vessels (83 percent) and fishing-based jobs (57 percent), playing a unique and irreplaceable social, economic and cultural role in the region. Across all its targets, the GFCM 2030 Strategy accelerates efforts to strengthen their overall resilience and increase their long-term sustainability.

Next generation voices

"If I were Minister of the Sea, I would make laws to keep the sea clean." - Erol, 12 years old, Turkey

"If I were Minister of the Fisheries, I would make sure there were permanent inspections, and stop anybody catching fish during the season when the fish are spawning." - Deyvid, 17 years old, Bulgaria

"If I were Minister of the Sea, I would stop pollution and illegal fishing so the other fishers can live a happy life." - Rawah, 9 years old, Tunisia

"I would also ask the government to put in place controls to enforce the law and, so we can protect our marine resources." - Yasmine, 14 years old, Lebanon

"If I were Minister of Fisheries, I would tell fishers not to catch small fish, only big ones, so the small fish can enjoy swimming and grow happily in the sea." - Marta, 7 years old, Italy

Watch the recording of the meeting

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