General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Regional Plan of Action for Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea - RPOA-SSF


The RPOA-SSF is a political commitment setting forth an ambitious roadmap for the ten years from 2018-2028. It prescribes concrete and coherent measures to address challenges and reinforce opportunities for small-scale fisheries, including by giving fishers a voice in the decisions that affect their livelihoods, by safeguarding environmentally sustainable fishing practices and by providing economic, social and employment benefits.

The RPOA-SSF was signed as a Ministerial Declaration by high-level representatives from 18 Mediterranean and Black Sea countries, as well as the European Union, on 26 September 2018. This declaration took shape at the end of a long process involving all stakeholders. It is a historic step for the region and a concrete commitment to ensure the long-term environmental, economic and social sustainability for small-scale fisheries within the next decade.

Read the RPOA-SSF brochure (AR | CR | EN | ES  | FR | GR | IT | TR)

Read the Ministerial Declaration


The RPOA-SSF puts forth actions to be taken in line with the following nine key topics:


Science provides the solid foundation for achieving meaningful change: the RPOA-SSF fosters integrated regional research activities to increase knowledge and understanding through:

    • Research on: socio-economic impact of SSF, interactions with marine ecosystems/recreational fisheries
    • Engage fishers in scientific monitoring
    • Adaptation to climate change


It’s impossible to manage what you can’t measure, so efforts to collect data of all kinds are being stepped up across the region with the active involvement of the fishers themselves through:

    • Participatory data collection systems
    • National fleet registers including SSF
    • Integrate fisher Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) in management


An environmentally, socially and economically sustainable future requires careful planning, regulation, monitoring and control to create an equitable sector for small-scale fisheries actors and encourage best practices through:

    • Access rights (i.e. access to resources, to landing sites)
    • Selectivity and biodiversity preservation (i.e. minimize bycatch, preserve essential fish habitats)
    • Technology and equipment (i.e. communications/navigation equipment, catch preservation, gear traceability)
    • Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (i.e. participatory surveillance)


The RPOA-SSF aims to help small-scale fishers increase the value of their catch and increase their incomes, promoting initiatives such as local cooperatives, certification schemes, direct sales and other forms of value-chain innovation through:

    • Strengthen producer organizations, including through improving market access and profitability
    • Promote first processing by fishers and direct sales
    • Raise consumer awareness and promote certification and traceability


A sustainable future will be impossible to achieve without the support and participation of the small-scale fishers themselves, so their active involvement in key decisions is a vital strategic aim of the RPOA-SSF through:

    • Co-management
    • Participation: MPA management and MSP processes
    • Reinforce legislation for participatory approaches
    • Synergies between SSF and other marine economies, including recreational fisheries


Education, training and technical and financial support are all required to support small-scale fishing communities in diversifying their activities, increasing their incomes and improving their prospects, particularly in the case of women and young people through:

    • SSF platforms
    • Access to funding, education/training
    • Livelihood diversification
    • Technical assistance and information sharing


Ensuring decent and safe working conditions and social protection for small-scale fishing communities is key to strengthening the resilience of both the current and potential future workforce through:

    • Ensure decent work and improve conditions (ILO C188)
    • Social protection


Gender equity is no less important in small-scale fisheries than any other sector, and the RPOA-SSF aims to give women the support they need to play a full role and participate on an equal footing through:

    • Equal participation in decision-making
    • Specific projects targeting women


As well as needing particular support to tackle the new challenges posed by a changing climate and disruptions to marine ecosystems, small-scale fisheries have a central role to play in the blue transformation of our region, in everything from marine protection to the circular economy through:

    • SSF within framework of nationally determined contributions (NDCs)
    • Support SSF communities affected by climate change or disasters
    • Innovative solutions for valorization and utilization of NIS
    • Circular economy: disposal of marine litter and recycling of recovered nets


THE SSF FORUM: Offering support to small-scale fishers and fish workers to further develop their capacities and skills 

The GFCM has launched the Small-Scale Fishers’ Forum initiative, aka the “SSF Forum”, as a priority joint action to respond to the "Capacity-building" recommendation within the RPOA-SSF. The SSF Forum currently takes the shape of a dedicated virtual platform that gathers a series of online workshops designed to offer small-scale fishers and fish workers from around the region the opportunity to share good practices and learn from one another.