The 43rd General Fisheries Commission for Mediterranean (GFCM) Annual Session attended by 24 countries took place in Athens from 4 to 9 November 2019. The 15 recommendations and resolutions, proposed by the European Union, were adopted by consensus with the crucial support of the GFCM Secretariat. These adoptions constitute an important step towards the full implementation of a new fisheries governance in Mediterranean and in the Black sea, in accordance with the objectives established by the MedFish4Ever (2017) and Sofia (2018) declarations, as well as the regional plan of action for small-scale fisheries (2018).
Historical management plans will help protecting iconic species, such as turbot in the Black Sea, red coral in the Mediterranean, blackspot seabream in the Alboran sea, demersals in the Adriatic, deep-water shrimps in the Strait of Sicily. These plans are based on the principles of transparency and traceability that will allow, in particular, to implement catch certificates and joint inspections. Management measures concerning the composition, maintenance, identification and retrieval of fish aggregating devices (FADs) were endorsed to better asses their impact on dolphinfish.
The annual session also focused its effort on protecting cetaceans and vulnerable species and ecosystems with the adoption of resolutions mitigating by-catches and preventing significant adverse effects of fishing activities. A working group on new technologies will focus on the issues of gear selectivity and mitigation of by catches.
The fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities was also enhanced through the better categorisation of cases of non-compliance, the launching of pilot projects on the use of electronic logbook and on the implementation of a centralised vessel monitoring system (VMS) for all GFCM areas of competence. In addition, all riparian countries are invited to share information about their fishing access agreements. In this same vein, the GFCM Secretariat will map all the conservation and control measures implemented by the riparian countries for protecting the fishing restricted areas.
The results of the second performance review of the GFCM has shown impressive progress since 2014, notably in terms of conservation, data collection and management plans. They underlined also the efficiency of the GFCM Secretariat. However, they highlighted the need for better monitoring, control and surveillance measures for fighting against IUU and clear enforcement of the decisions adopted.
GFCM has also established the calendar of events for next year:
- High level meeting (June 2020, Algiers) for the adoption of the new GFCM Strategy for the five-year period (2021-2025)
- High-level conference on the follow-up of the Sofia declaration (October 2020, Georgia)
- 44TH GFCM Annual Session (November 2020, Tirana)
- High-level conference on the review of the MedFish4Ever initiatives (2021, Greece)
More information in the Fisheries section of the European Commission.