General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Latest advice from the Working Group on the Black Sea


The ninth meeting of the Working Group on the Black Sea (WGBS) was held online from 28 to 30 July 2021. It was attended by delegates from six Black Sea countries and the European Union, as well as eight observers and representatives of the GFCM Secretariat and invited experts. 

The WGBS is responsible, among other things, for providing advice on Black Sea fisheries for consideration of the Commission. Its mandate is to examine fishery and aquaculture related issues of relevance for the Black Sea, including the status and trends of living marine resources, and formulate advice on these issues. The WGBS also facilitates the exchange of scientific data and information and promotes cooperation in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Black Sea region. 

This year, the WGBS reviewed work carried out under the BlackSea4Fish project, as well as activities undertaken in the frame of the midterm strategy towards the sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries. At the WGBS, the BlackSea4Fish project was considered a perfect example of effective subregional coordination and support to decision-making, particularly fitting in view of the implementation of the GFCM 2030 Strategy for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and would ideally be replicated in other subregions of the GFCM area of application. 

In addition to the overview of intersessional activities, the WGBS held specific sessions on Black Sea turbot, piked dogfish, rapa whelk and sturgeon. More specifically, the WGBS discussed, endorsed and provided scientific advice for the consideration of the Commission, on: 

  • A roadmap towards the drafting of technical elements for the management of rapa whelk fisheries in the Black Sea; 
  • Roadmaps for the assessment and management of key fisheries (anchovy; turbot; European sprat; horse mackerel; rapa whelk); 
  • The management of Black Sea turbot fisheries, including a roadmap towards the estimation of new reference points by July 2022 as well as the identification of alternative closure periods; 
  • The implementation of transitional precautionary management measures accompanied by a research programme on piked dogfish, working towards a full-fledged multiannual management plan; 
  • The proposal to formulate of a roadmap for issues related to the minimum conservation reference size of select species, in particular, red mullet; 
  • A list of species to guide the collection and analysis of recreational fisheries data; 
  • The continuation and strengthening of the discards monitoring programmes, including an improvement of the sampling strategy to support stock assessments; 
  • A pilot project to assess cetacean bycatch in Black Sea turbot fisheries and to test measures to mitigate the incidental catch of cetaceans proposed by the Working Group on Fishing Technology; 
  • A pilot project to address critical issues related to the marine part of the sturgeon life-cycle; 
  • A data call scheme for VME-related data aimed at populating the GFCM Database on Sensitive Benthic Habitats and Species; 
  • The contribution of Black Sea coastal countries to the database on national Fisheries Restricted Areas (FRAs) by sharing all relevant information on existing spatial restrictions to fisheries within national waters. 

The advice formulated by the WGBS will be submitted to the forty-fourth session of the GFCM for adoption in November. The WGBS also advanced on its workplan for 2021-2023. 

Thank you to the participating countries, organizations and experts who provided invaluable support to the activities contributing to improved scientific advice in the Black Sea: 



  • European Union 
  • Bulgaria 
  • Georgia 
  • Romania 
  • Turkey 
  • Ukraine 


  • Accobams 
  • Green Balkans  
  • Danube Sturgeon Task Force 
  • WWF