General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Meet the new Executive Secretary of the GFCM: Dr Miguel Bernal


Today, Miguel Bernal is starting his mandate as Executive Secretary of the General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  

After a selection process overseen by FAO management and GFCM contracting parties, the nomination of Miguel Bernal by FAO Director-General Dr Qu Dongyu was unanimously approved at the forty-fifth session of the GFCM.  

Why did you choose to work in the field of marine fisheries and aquaculture? 

The sea, fish and fisheries have always been part of my life.  

While born and raised on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, it is eventually in the Mediterranean and Black Sea that I found a family and a home. At the GFCM, I discovered my true passion and a community that is worth every effort to preserve. 

For me, working in fisheries is a way to use my skills and knowledge towards preserving a key element in the memories of my childhood, the food I prefer and a profession I deeply admire.  

What would you like to achieve as GFCM Executive Secretary? 

It is a great honour for me to be appointed to this important position. 

Last year the GFCM countries adopted a new ambitious strategy for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The GFCM 2030 Strategy is far more than just an aspirational vision, it clearly defines aims and is rooted in practical actions. The GFCM Secretariat is here to facilitate the implementation of this vision, attracting buy-in and support by generating additional trust and ensuring that actions in the field are effective, with a view to ultimately assisting countries in meeting their shared objectives and making this Organization relevant both at the regional and international scales, thereby contributing to FAO’s objectives of better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life. 

In close collaboration with countries and relevant partners, and under the leadership of the GFCM Chairperson, I intend to further the efforts of my predecessors, capitalizing on recent achievements and building upon the commitments of the GFCM Membership in order to ensure that the GFCM reaches new heights, acting on lessons learned and accelerating efforts to meet remaining challenges. 

Do you have any message to GFCM members and partners?

I have dedicated the last ten years of my career to supporting the enhancement of the GFCM scientific advisory process, and it has been the most inspiring thing I have done.  

I will keep on putting all my efforts, knowledge and passion at the service of GFCM’s ambition. I am proud that in this journey, I will be able to rely on strong networks and institutions across the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, as well as on my colleagues at the GFCM Secretariat and FAO. We are one in our quest for sustainability and this is our collective power. 

©GFCM/Intissare Aamri

The challenges ahead are big, but I am confident the GFCM will make important advances and I look forward to playing my part.  

As Executive Secretary, Miguel Bernal will be responsible during five years, for the implementation of the policies and activities of the GFCM. On behalf of GFCM contracting parties, he will manage the Secretariat, administer the GFCM autonomous budget, ensure coordination with relevant FAO Divisions and Units, promote the role of the GFCM in relevant fora, secure extra-budgetary funds, and maintain formal relationships with countries and partners. 

After completing a Master's in Statistics from the University of St Andrews and a Master's and Doctorate in Marine Sciences from the University of Cadiz, Miguel Bernal worked in a number of universities and fisheries research institutes across the world, publishing numerous scientific contributions in the fields of fisheries, ecosystem modeling and climate change. 


Miguel Bernal in short
  • Spanish nationality, married with two children 
  • M.Sc. in Statistics, M.Sc. and PhD in Marine Sciences 
  • Fluent in three UN languages: English, French and Spanish, as well as in Italian. 
  • 27 years of experience in fisheries, including in Australia, Europe, North Africa, South America and the United States 
  • 15 years in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea 
  • 10 years at FAO 
  • ~ 40 peer reviewed articles, 15 book chapters and books published