General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

GFCM-Lex project takes stock of important achievements with a region-wide legal framework established


The project “Towards a region-wide legal framework for the management and conservation of Mediterranean living marine resources and ecosystems” takes stock of its achievements with a final workshop to share important results. The initiative offers a multilingual online platform (GFCM-Lex) with relevant fisheries and aquaculture legislation from member countries and capacity-building mechanisms at the national and regional levels to bring countries in the region together.  

Rome, 12 October 2022. The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, in collaboration with the Lakes and Fish Resources Protection and Development Agency of Egypt and with the financial support of the MAVA Foundation, organized the final event of the project "Towards a region-wide legal framework for the management and conservation of Mediterranean living marine resources and ecosystems" from 11 to 12 October 2022 in Luxor, Egypt. The finalization of the flagship initiative of this project – GFCM-Lex – took centre stage at the workshop. 

Opening of the workshop in Luxor ©GFCM/Dominique Bourdenet

This workshop marking the final event under the umbrella of the current GFCM-Lex project, which is due to end on 31 October 2022, focused on the work undertaken in close cooperation with the project’s beneficiary countries – Albania, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Türkiye – to retrieve, analyse and store national legislations on fisheries and aquaculture stemming from recommendations adopted by the GFCM. 

"Throughout the Mediterranean region, people have generally experienced a lack of access to information they need relating to fishing activities." said Nicola Ferri, GFCM Compliance Officer. With this project, the MAVA Fondation aimed to provide a transparent and user-friendly way of getting information and to build relationships with international and regional instruments, starting from the GFCM recommendations."


Statements at the opening of the GFCM-Lex workshop ©GFCM/Dominique Bourdenet

"The project intends to enable fishers, practitioners, administrators, scientists, researchers, lawyers and any other user with an interest in the sector to access, use and contribute to GFCM-Lex", declared Toni Ettel, Programme Operations Officer at FAO Egypt, at the opening of the workshop. “The GFCM will ensure that these stakeholders are aware of applicable legislation around the Mediterranean and are able to share relevant information for the constant updating of the repository".

National legislations available in multiple languages 

In the Mediterranean region, access to national legislations on the management and conservation of marine living resources and ecosystems is limited and information can be hard to find, particularly for users without a legal background. There is a general lack of knowledge of existing national legislation, with little awareness of the laws and decrees that have been adopted over the years to transpose GFCM recommendations.  

An increasing need to exchange best practices is constrained by national legislation usually being available only in their respective national languages and rarely in other languages. GFCM-Lex responds to the need for a transparent and user-friendly, multilingual online repository built on the Wiki engine. The platform is available in English, in addition to the national languages of the countries covered. National profiles are presented in a standardized template structured around multiple key areas of fisheries and aquaculture: types of fisheries, access regimes to fisheries resources, conservation and management, monitoring, control and surveillance, aquaculture–fisheries interactions, social protection for the fisheries and aquaculture sector, etc. 

GFCM-Lex expanding further 

GFCM-Lex first tested the methodology at the subregional level in three countries, Albania, Tunisia and Türkiye, who received assistance from the GFCM in:  

  • identifying their national legislation relevant to GFCM recommendations; 
  • analysing their legal and institutional frameworks towards possible amendments and revisions; 
  • collecting all relevant laws and regulations to be included in the repository; and  
  • making regular updates to the GFCM-Lex repository with information provided by contributors and stakeholders.  

The geographical scope was then expanded to four additional countries with the financial assistance of the MAVA Foundation: Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Morocco. In turn, all countries in the GFCM area of application are being progressively included in the platform, benefitting from the experience gained through the pilot stage.  

The project evolved from an effort to assist beneficiary countries in fulfilling their obligations to transpose GFCM recommendations into their national legislations into a user-friendly information hub offering access to relevant fisheries legislation from different countries while contributing to the harmonization of fisheries and aquaculture legislation in the region.  

Lively discussions between workshop participants ©GFCM/Dominique Bourdenet

GFCM-Lex achievements shared 

Among the many achievements of the project, a social protection component was included in the national profiles thanks to the cooperation of the FAO Fisheries Division and will be extended to the other countries in the region in the near future. GFCM-Lex was also developed to function as an information hub, bringing together international organizations, academia and non-governmental organizations to collect technical contents in order to enhance the platform. 

"In Egypt, the legislation in the field dates back more than forty years, but our country is now amending its legal framework, and the GFCM-Lex project has been a driving force in initiating this project," said Doaa Hammam, GFCM focal point for the Lakes and Fish Resources Protection and Development Agency of Egypt."  

The achievements of the project and related success stories were shared in the final workshop in Luxor with national representatives, GFCM partners and project steering committee members. Albania, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Türkiye participated in the workshop conducted by the GFCM together with support from the FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa and the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division (NFI). 

Workshop outcomes  

The workshop offered an occasion to review the GFCM-Lex methodology adopted over the course of the project, as well as the outcomes of the training sessions held in Malaga, Spain in June 2022, and in Tricase, Italy last September and of the national meetings, such as the one dedicated to Egypt in March 2022. Participants also reviewed the national profiles included in the platform and discussed how they could be enhanced. The national profiles prepared during the pilot stage were updated with information addressing a variety of aspects, such as the participation of countries in relevant international treaties and membership in relevant regional fisheries management organizations, national maritime delimitations, social protection for workers in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, access to fisheries resources, management and conservation measures, monitoring, control and surveillance measures, aquaculture licensing, etc. 

During the first day, GFCM national focal points presented their experience in working with the GFCM-Lex project and exchanged information regarding the challenges they faced in implementing the project and how it benefited their countries.  

Participants in the GFCM-Lex workshop ©GFCM/Dominique Bourdenet

The second day focused on the work of the project partners, including other United Nations entities and international partners, such as FAO, the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP-MAP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (CIHEAM Bari) and the World Maritime University (WMU), and on their role in managing legal information of relevance to GFCM-Lex. Representatives from these organizations presented their work and relevant databases and discussed current and potential synergies between their projects and GFCM-Lex. 

The workshop provided an opportunity to look at similar capacity-building initiatives launched by partner organizations at the national and regional levels. One of the aims was to disseminate knowledge and best practices and, most importantly, to strengthen synergies within the region and beyond. 

The way forward 

Although the project is coming to an end, the GFCM-Lex platform continues to grow, with a view to reaching the objective of sharing experiences, raising awareness on the main issues at stake and harmonizing legal frameworks in the region for the sustainable management and conservation of living marine resources. A harmonized framework will also be essential to help the region face other current challenges, such as pollution and climate change.  

Furthermore, exploring ways to replicate the experience within the region and beyond is expected, as well as finding links with other national, regional and regional databases and platforms in order to enhance the cooperative network already established.  

For further information on the project, please visit: Pilot project towards a harmonized legal framework for the conservation of Mediterranean living marine resources and ecosystems | GFCM-Lex