General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Regional research programme for rapa whelk fisheries in the Black Sea

The rapa whelk is a non-indigenous species originating from the western Pacific, first observed in the Black Sea in 1947. Since then, the population of this gastropod has become established and expanded greatly, representing a significant revenue source for Black Sea countries, particularly for small-scale fishers.

Massively exported to its native east Asia, the rapa whelk is currently fished close to its maximum sustainable limit and in 2021 has been found to be in possible overexploitation. Previous efforts to curb, or even eradicate, its population, have thus evolved into policies to manage the exploitation of this stock towards ensuring long-term yields and sustaining the multimillion-dollar market developing around it as well as the livelihoods of involved stakeholders.

The regional research programme on rapa whelk fisheries in the Black Sea was thus established by Recommendation GFCM/42/2018/9 and launched in 2019, under the coordination of the BlackSea4Fish project.



  • Conduct studies on size, genetics, density, abundance, biomass, recruitment, growth, reproduction, physiology and interactions with other species, environmental parameters influencing its lifecycle, preferred habitats and feeding behaviour.
  • Carry out standardized scientific beam trawl surveys-at-sea to collect information on biomass and abundance indices and on the size/age distribution in all Black Sea countries.
  • Conduct biological sampling of catch, bycatch and fishing effort, carried out at landing ports and through onboard observers.
  • Investigate the methodologies used for assessing the status of rapa whelk, including through the compilation of historical data.
  • Carry out socio-economic surveys to develop economic indicators and understand external aspects affecting the fishery and its economic sustainability.
  • Test the effects of possible management measures through management strategy evaluation (MSE).


Current partners

  • BULGARIA: Institute of Fish Resources (IFR), Varna, Bulgaria (contact: Elitsa PETROVA-PAVLOVA)
  • GOERGIA: National Environmental Agency (NEA) under the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (contacts: Ramaz MIKELADZE; Marina MGLADZE)
  • ROMANIA: National Institute for Marine Research and Development “Grigore Antipa” (NIMRD), Constanta, Romania (contact: George TIGANOV)
  • TURKEY: Central Fisheries Research Institute (SUMAE), Trabzon, Turkey (contact: Murat DAĞTEKIN)
  • TURKEY: Istanbul University, Faculty of Aquatic Sciences, Istanbul, Turkey (contact: Firdes Saadet KARAKULAK)
  • UKRAINE: contacts: Oleksandr CHASCHYN, Sergey SNIHIROV, Bogdan HULAK

Learn more about the GFCM's research programmes.