General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Management plans

Multiannual management plans are essential tools for fisheries management. They guide the implementation of management measures towards the overall objectives of achieving and maintaining the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources, counteracting and preventing overfishing, and ensuring high and long-term yields. This is typically addressed through the establishment of specific objectives, indicators and reference points, such as attaining and maintaining maximum sustainable yield (MSY) as gauged against target levels (reference points) of fishing mortality and/or stock biomass. It’s important that management plans are drafted with a precautionary approach, and they should be adaptable to changing stocks, fisheries and environments.

Multiannual management plans include a number of management measures (e.g. spatio-temporal restrictions, effort and catch limitations, technical measures), and specify adaptive mechanisms to be implemented in order to achieve specific objectives within desired timeframes and maintain results over time, while allowing for changing and evolving stocks, fisheries and environments.

Since the creation of the first comprehensive GFCM multiannual management plan – for small pelagic fisheries in the Adriatic Sea in 2013 – the GFCM has adopted a total of 10 adaptive multiannual management plans. While some are clearly structured and outline specific long-term measures, others are still in development and involve preliminary transitional measures pending the collection of new scientific data to inform future longer-term measures.


  • Work on technical elements to support the development of management plans: compilation of available scientific evidence useful for advice, identification of the potential scope and objectives, consultation with experts and national representatives on possible management measures.
  • Implementation of research programmes to collect data necessary to inform management plans, and formulation of advice for management plans based on agreed precautionary principles when the information is scarce or fragmented.
  • Regular analysis of the effectiveness of management measures in place and/or simulation of potential effects of alternative management scenarios through management strategy evaluation (SOMFI 2018, box 12) for select fisheries.
  • Revision of existing management plans and/or of the framework for the provision of advice, as appropriate, to improve their usefulness.

GFCM management plans and management measures in place