General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Medbycatch project | Understanding Mediterranean multitaxa bycatch of vulnerable species and testing mitigation – a collaborative approach

The ‘Understanding Mediterranean multitaxa bycatch of vulnerable species and testing mitigation – a collaborative approach’ project ran from end 2017 to 2022 with the aim to improve the monitoring and mitigate the incidental capture of vulnerable species in fisheries (also known generically as bycatch), which represents a key conservation and sustainability issue in the Mediterranean for a number of taxonomic groups, namely sea turtles, marine mammals, seabirds, elasmobranchs and macrobenthic invertebrates. The project had a regional scope while implementing field activities in focus countries in the Mediterranean (Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, as well as Croatia and Italy from 2020).  

The Medbycatch project was carried out by the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS), the GFCM, the Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Center (SPA/RAC) of the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UN Environment/MAP), the International Union for Conservation of Nature – Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (IUCN-Med), BirdLife Europe and Central Asia (BL ECA) (acting as Project Coordinator), the Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles (MEDASSET) and the World Wide Fund for Nature - Mediterranean Marine Initiative (WWF). 

IMPLEMENTATION AREA:

 

SCOPE:

Monitor and mitigate incidental catches of vulnerable species and reduce fishing impacts and pressures on marine habitats and species

DURATION: 

Phase 1: Sept. 2017 - Jun. 2020

Phase 2: Jun. 2020 - Oct. 2022

FOCUS COUNTRIES: 

Croatia · Italy · Morocco · Tunisia · Turkey

 

OBJECTIVES

  • Address knowledge gaps regarding the bycatch of vulnerable species occurring during fishing operations in the Mediterranean through a more systematic and standardized approach to data collection and 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 an informed basis for the formulation of national/regional strategies to reduce incidental catches, preserve vulnerable species and support the sustainability of fisheries.

RESULTS

  • Developed the Monitoring the incidental catch of vulnerable species in Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries: Methodology of data collection, which ensures minimum common standards for the collection of data on vulnerable species and allows for replications and comparisons among fisheries across the region, thus offering a harmonized basis of knowledge, information and evidence for decision-making 

  • Implemented monitoring programmes for incidental catch of vulnerable species by means of on-board observations, questionnaires at landing place and self-sampling techniques in Croatia, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. Thanks to the development of a common data collection methodology, similar monitoring programmes were also established in Cyprus and Greece, in the context of other projects

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

  • Published the Review on Incidental Catches of Vulnerable Species in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, establishing a baseline for bycatch in the region and identifying existing gaps, an important basis for informing and prioritizing future efforts on bycatch in the region

  • Published a regional Identification guide of vulnerable species incidentally caught in Mediterranean fisheries, as well as pocket subregional versions to support on-board activities and improve the knowledge on the different groups of vulnerable species

  • Translated the Good practice guides on reducing the incidental catch of vulnerable species into six new languages to increase their dissemination and use among fishers

  • Produced ad-hoc studies on a variety of complementary topics to contribute to tackling the bycatch issue and support the identification of existing, acceptable and applicable solutions

  • Created a Pan-Mediterranean multi-taxa database, containing data on bycatch of vulnerable species in the region, to make data more accessible and inform efforts to address the issue at the regional level

  • Analyzed data on the spatial and temporal distribution of incidental catches for the selected fleet segments and related impacts

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

  • Organized awareness, communication and advocacy initiatives on the impacts of the incidental catch of vulnerable species, informing and influencing policy developments at national and regional levels, leading to a better understanding of the scale of the issues at stake and increased engagement and action. 

 

 

Read:

 

Understanding and addressing bycatch: key steps for sustainable fisheries

AR | EN | FR

 

AR | EN | FR 

View all languages available here. 

 

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

Methodology for data collection

 

Watch:

 

 

 

DIRECT PARTNERS

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)

World Wildlife Fund (Mediterranean Marine Initiative)

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) 

INDIRECT PARTNERS


Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc (GREPOM)

Association Les Amis des Oiseaux (AAO)/BirdLife Tunisia

Sea Turtle Research Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (DEKAMER)

Doğa Derneği/BirdLife Turkey
Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV)

World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-Turkey)

WWF North Africa (Tunisia)

Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli (LIPU)

WWF Italy

 

KEY CONTACTS

Margherita SESSA
Liaison and programme officer

Paolo CARPENTIERI
Fishery resources monitoring specialist

With the financial support of :