The Agreement for the establishment of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), under the provisions of Article XIV of the FAO constitution, was approved by the FAO Conference in 1949 and entered into force in 1952. Amendments to this Agreement were approved in 1963, 1976 and 1997. The latter amendments were related to the change in name of GFCM previously “General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean” and to new obligations for the Contracting Parties including their contributions to an autonomous budget for the functioning of the Commission. These new obligations came into force on 29 April 2004.
Consisting of 23 Member countries along with the European Union, the GFCM’s objectives are to promote the development, conservation, rational management and best utilization of living marine resources, as well as the sustainable development of aquaculture in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and connecting waters. Membership is open to both Mediterranean coastal states and regional economic organizations as well as to United Nations member states whose vessels engage in fishing in Mediterranean waters.
In cooperation with other Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), the GFCM is instrumental in coordinating efforts by governments to effectively manage fisheries at regional level following the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.The GFCM has the authority to adopt binding recommendations for fisheries conservation and management in its Convention Area and plays a critical role in fisheries governance in the Region.
The GFCM holds its regular session annually. It implements its policy and activities through the Secretariat, based at its headquarters in Rome, Italy, and operates during the intersessional period by means of its committees, namely the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), the Committee on Aquaculture (CAQ), the Compliance Committee (CoC), the Committee of Administration and Finance (CAF) and their respective subsidiaries. The GFCM also enjoys the support of cooperative projects at sub-regional and regional level which enhance, in particular, scientific cooperation and capacity building in participating countries in line with GFCM priorities and strategies. In addition, the Commission cooperates closely with other international organizations in matters of mutual interest.
The purpose of the Commission shall be to promote the development, conservation, rational management and best utilization of living marine resources, as well as the sustainable development of aquaculture in the Region. In particular, the Commission has the following responsibilities:
- to keep under review the state of the Mediterranean living resources, including their abundance and the level of their exploitation, as well as the state of the fisheries based thereon;
- to formulate and recommend, appropriate measures: (i) for the conservation and rational management of living marine resources; and (ii) for the implementation of these recommendations;
- to keep under review the economic and social aspects of the fishing industry and recommend any measures aimed at its development;
- to encourage, recommend, coordinate and, as appropriate, undertake training and extension activities in all aspects of fisheries;
- to encourage, recommend, coordinate and, as appropriate, undertake research and development activities, including cooperative projects in the areas of fisheries and the protection of living marine resources;
- to assemble, publish or disseminate information regarding exploitable living marine resources and fisheries based on these resources;
- to promote programmes for marine and brackish water aquaculture and coastal fisheries enhancement;
- to carry out such other activities as may be necessary for the Commission to achieve its purpose as defined above.