General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Research programme on common dolphinfish

Common dolphinfish – or mahi-mahi in Hawaiian – is a large, highly migratory pelagic species globally distributed across tropical and subtropical regions. Since ancient times it has been pursued by fishers, primarily in small-scale fisheries taking advantage of its habit of sheltering beneath floating objects. 

The species has social and economic importance in the Western and Central Mediterranean, where four main countries are involved in the dolphinfish fishery: Italy, Spain (in the Balearic Islands), Tunisia and Malta. Their small-scale fisheries actively target dolphinfish using fish aggregation devices (FADs). It’s also captured by pelagic longlines as bycatch, and is highly valued by recreational fishers.  

From what is known of the migratory pattern of common dolphinfish and its coherent genetic structure in the Mediterranean, the population can be considered as a single stock whose fisheries are shared by several coastal countries. This calls for coordinated efforts in dolphinfish population assessments and fisheries management. 

With this aim in mind, the GFCM issued Recommendation GFCM/43/2019/1 on management measures for the use of anchored fish aggregation devices in common dolphinfish fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea. The Resolution calls on the countries involved to maintain their fishing effort at current levels and to develop a research programme to build understanding of the status of the stock and exploreways to strengthen its sustainability. A further commitment to extend the period of the current measures was renewed by Recommendation GFCM/44/2021/11. 


The research programme has four specific objectives, each corresponding to a work package (WP):


WP 1. Establish a framework for stock assessment.


WP 2. Assess the impacts of FADs on the stock sustainability and on the ecosystem.


WP 3. Identify and appraise management measures to guarantee a low risk of stock collapse while maintaining sustainable and relatively stable common dolphinfish fisheries in the Mediterranean.


WP 4. Coordination, networking and capacity building.

Learn more about the GFCM's research programmes.