General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Taking action to secure a sustainable future for Black Sea fisheries and aquaculture


Sofia, Bulgaria – Almost two years after the Bucharest Declaration signed in October 2016, six Black Sea riparian countries and the European Union signed the Sofia Declaration renewing their commitment to achieve sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the region. After successful discussions under the umbrella of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the ministers and high-level representatives of Black Sea riparian countries have pledged to take concrete action in order to ensure a brighter future for the region and its coastal communities.

This historic declaration was signed just after the High-level Conference on Black Sea fisheries and aquaculture, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 6-7 June 2018. This event, organized by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in close collaboration with the Bulgarian Government and in partnership with the European Commission as well as other international organizations, offered a unique opportunity to discuss key challenges and to further dialogue and cooperation among all the riparian states.

The Sofia Declaration sets concrete objectives and actions that should help develop a comprehensive regional governance in the Black Sea. This should be achieved thanks to greater solidarity and coordination among all riparian countries in order to fight illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), improve data collection and science, improve fisheries management, and support sustainable small-scale fisheries and aquaculture. The many threats to this peculiar marine basin posed by environmental conditions and human activities need indeed to be properly addressed if we are to secure the region's ecological and economic wealth and viable livelihoods for coastal communities.

“Today is a historic date for the Black Sea. All countries present have recognized that they have a shared responsibility to address these challenges and that they need to collaborate in each other’s interest”, said Abdellah Srour, Executive Secretary of the GFCM. “In this context, the GFCM is called to play a central role to promote and support dialogue and cooperation throughout the region”.

Through the BlackSea4Fish project and thanks to the establishment of Aquaculture Demonstrative Centres in the Black Sea, the GFCM has been successful in enhancing regional cooperation in both fisheries and aquaculture and has provided technical assistance to facilitate knowledge-sharing and improve the provision of advice. Much work remains to be done but there is strong hope that efforts will be continued thanks to the momentum created.  

The High-level conference was attended by 11 countries (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine) as well as by representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the European Commission, the European Fisheries Control Agency, ACCOBAMS, the Black Sea Advisory Council,the Black Sea Commission, Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Eurofish, the Black Sea Sunrise Fisheries Association, the Danube Sturgeon Task Force, the European Association of Fishermen in the Black Sea and WWF.

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