General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Management plan | Red coral in the Mediterranean Sea

Red coral (Corallium rubrum) is exploited in Mediterranean waters for its skeleton of calcium carbonate (or limestone), and its skeletal axis is used as a gemstone to make ornaments and jewelry. Considering the high vulnerability of red coral to fishing activities (it’s a sessile animal which grows slowly), the GFCM has included it in its programme of work since the 1980s, discussing measures to ensure its sustainable harvest. The GFCM has adopted multiple recommendations addressing red coral since 2011.


  • Limit allowable gear for harvesting red coral to a hammer used by a scuba diver
  • Forbid red coral harvesting at depths from 0 to 50 m to allow the recovery of shallow-water populations
  • Prohibit the harvest of red coral colonies  whose  diameter  is  less  than  7 mm, measured within 1 cm from the base of the colony
  • Temporarily close areas to coral fishing activity when undersized specimens exceed 25 percent of the total catch harvested from a given bank for a given year
  • Record and submit data on annual catch, fishing effort, average diameter of colonies, percentage of undersized colonies, depth of harvesting, and coral bank
  • Establish a system of daily and/or annual catch limitation
  • Maintain exploitation effort at the levels authorized and applied in recent years
  • Eliminate IUU fishing of red coral through potential mechanisms to trace it from the time it is landed and sold as a raw material until it reaches the retailer as a finished product
  • Increase scientific research and data collection on red coral, with data such as biomass, recruitment and mortality rate, including within the framework of the GFCM Research programme on red coral

Learn more about the GFCM's management plans.