General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Launch of a study on the connectivity of fish stocks exploited by fishing fleets in Spain and Morocco


Scientists from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), the University of Málaga (Spain) and the National Institute of Fisheries Research of Morocco (INRH) will carry out a 25-day study in waters on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, aimed at obtaining larvae and eggs of  selected target commercial species in the area towards studying the connectivity of their populations. They sailed from the port of Málaga on February 20th aboard Research Vessel Emma Bardán, provided in-kind by the General Secretariat for Fisheries of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

The research cruise will sample about 100 stations distributed along the Moroccan and Spanish coasts on both sides of the Strait between 30 and 500 meters deep. They will use different types of nets to sample larvae and eggs as well as rosette of oceanographic bottles with CTD to measure physical-chemical parameters and collect water samples. At each point of study, the physicochemical characteristics of the water will be analyzed to relate oceanographic dynamics to the distribution of eggs and of the target species on both sides of the Strait, integrating information from the European and African waters. The cruise will end on March 15th in Málaga and the processing and analysis of collected samples will be carried out in laboratories.

"The main objective of the cruise is to describe the spatial structure of the ichthyoplanktonic community as precisely as possible, to help identify the most appropriate stock units for assessment and management", highlights Raúl Laiz, researcher at the IEO Center of Málaga and head of the cruise.

This expedition is part of the research project "TRANSboundary population structure of Sardine, European hake and blackspot seabream in the AlBORAN Sea and adjacent waters: a multidisciplinary approach" (TRANSBORAN), whose objective is to describe the spatial structure of populations of sardine (Sardina pilchardus), European hake (Merluccius merluccius) and blackspot seabream (Pagellus bogaraveo) in the Alborán Sea in order to support the management of western Mediterranean fisheries and ensure their sustainability by contributing the best scientific information possible.

The IEO centers of Málaga, Balearic islands, Vigo, Santander and Gijón, the Universities of Málaga, La Sapienza and Bologna (Italy), the INRH, the National Center for Research and Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture of Algeria (CNRDPA) and the National Institute of Aquatic Sciences and Technologies of Tunisia (INSTM) are part of this project, promoting its multidisciplinary approach to geographically delimit the stock units of these main species in the Alborán Sea.

The results of the project – which began in early 2018 and will develop its activities until the end of 2020 – are expected to reveal whether the currently assumed stock boundaries are the appropriate spatial scale for the assessment and management of these species.

"The efficient management of shared stocks requires scientific collaboration between institutions from different countries that address connectivity processes in an integrated manner," said Manuel Hidalgo, researcher at the IEO Center of the Balearic Islands and project coordinator.

The TRANSBORAN project is co-financed by the FAO, through a collaboration between the CopeMed II Fisheries Research Project and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), and the IEO.  

“We are pleased to assist COPEMED in the TRANSBORAN project, which fits with the objectives of our regional strategy” said Abdellah Srour, Executive Secretary of the GFCM. “The data gathered will improve the quality of the scientific advice, so to ensure an effective implementation of management plans for key fisheries, starting with the one already adopted by the GFCM for blackspot seabream, and uphold the long-term sustainability of western Mediterranean fisheries”


More information

-          FAO COPEMED II

-          General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)

-          Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO)

-          National Institute of Fisheries Research of Morocco (INRH)