General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - GFCM

Report of the Working Group on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and Essential Fish Habitats (WGVME-EFH)

Tue, Mar, 2022, 9am - Thu, Mar, 2022, 5am


Download the report (available only in English): PDF


The Working Group on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems and Essential Fish Habitats (WGVME-EFH) was held online on 22–24 March 2022. It was attended by 91 participants from national administrations, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and research institutes of Algeria, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine as well as by participants from the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG-MARE), the FAO Fisheries Department and the GFCM Secretariat. In order to provide advice to the Scientific Advisory Committee on Fisheries (SAC) 2022, the main objectives of the WGVME-EFH 2022 were to: i) provide advice on scientific monitoring plans in GFCM fisheries restricted areas (FRAs); ii) review two FRA proposals; iii) identify priority areas for conservation purposes in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea; iv) provide inputs regarding a concept note for a study to map Isidella elongata and the essential fish habitat (EFH) in geographical subarea (GSA) 18; v) review the work done towards mapping the deep-sea fishing footprint including when overlapping with potential vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs); vi) continue working to map EFH of fish priority species occurring in the GFCM area of application; vii) agree on a roadmap to assess the performance of the 1 000 m FRA as a potential other effective area-based conservation measure (OECM) according to the Conventional on Biological Diversity (CBD) criteria. The WGVME-EFH formulated the conclusions and recommendations for guidelines to develop scientific monitoring programmes in GFCM FRAs according to their main conservation objective (i.e. conservation of VMEs or EFH); identified the need to include in the new GFCM database on national fisheries restrictions as much information as possible at the national level for GFCM contracting parties and cooperating non-contracting parties (CPCs); recommended to continue compiling and showcasing information on the distribution of VME indicators in the GFCM database on sensitive benthic habitats and species, especially in non-European Union countries; suggested to organize an ad hoc session of the WGVME‑EFH on Isidella elongata to propose an integrated action towards delineating priority areas for the protection of this species; updated the roadmap to guide the work needed to analyse the overlap between VMEs and the deep-water red shrimp fishery; and highlighted the benefits of analysing potential habitat (or habitat suitability) for protecting vulnerable species and EFH.