Mediterranean and Black Seas: Commission proposes fishing opportunities for 2023

Today, the Commission adopted its proposal for fishing opportunities for 2023 for the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. The proposal promotes the sustainable management of fish stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas and delivers on the political commitments made in the MedFish4Ever and Sofia Declarations. It reflects the Commission’s ambition to make fisheries in these two sea basins sustainable, in line with the 2030 Strategy of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), which is the regional fisheries management organisation competent for the conservation and management of fish stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. 

Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “With this proposal we pursue our ambitious objective to reach sustainably managed fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, in line with scientific advice. We must continue building on the positive trends of recent years and undertake more efforts to ensure stocks recovery for the benefit of local communities.” 

The Commission proposes to use the same tools introduced in the 2022 fishing opportunities based on the latest scientific advice, e.g. fishing effort for trawlers and longliners as well as catch limits for deep-water shrimps. These measures were established under the Western Mediterranean multiannual management plan (MAP) for demersal stocks, with the aim of reaching the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) – the maximum amount of fish that fishers can take out of the sea without compromising the regeneration and future productivity of the stock  by 1 January 2025 at the latest.  

In the Mediterranean Sea, the proposal incorporates measures for red coral and dolphinfish, in line with adopted GFCM decisions. For the stocks where the GFCM transitional measures are expiring at the end of 2022 (such as blackspot seabream and deep-water shrimp stocks in the Ionian, the Levant Seas and the Strait of Sicily), the proposal will be updated after the 2022 GFCM annual session, where new decisions are expected to be adopted.  

In the Adriatic Sea, the proposal continues the implementation of the GFCM MAP for demersal stocks and the GFCM MAP for small pelagic stocks. For small pelagic stocks, the proposal continues the implementation of the transitional period of the MAP. It includes a further level of reduction of catches, based on the transitional internal share between the Member States, as well as the fleet capacity ceiling for vessels targeting small pelagics. For demersal stocks, it proposes a decrease of the fishing effort in line with the future GFCM decision and the goal to reach MSY by 2026. The decision will be adopted at the 2022 GFCM annual session. 

In the Black Sea, the proposal includes catch limits and quotas for turbot and sprat. For sprat, the Commission proposes to maintain the same catch limit as in 2022. For turbot, the levels of the total allowable catch (TAC) and quotas will be set and adopted at the 2022 GFCM annual session.  

Next steps 

The Commission proposal will be complemented at a later stage, based on the results of the GFCM annual session (7-11 November 2022) and the scientific advice for demersal stocks covered by the Western Mediterranean MAP, which is expected for 28 October.  

The Council will discuss the Commission’s proposal on 1213 December and establish the allocation of fishing opportunities. The regulation should apply as of 1 January 2023.


The Commission promotes an enhanced multilateral approach and cooperation to fisheries management in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. The Malta MedFish4ever and Sofia Declarations established a new governance framework, which was strengthened by the adoption of the new 2030 GFCM Strategy. 

The multiannual management plan for demersal stocks in Western Mediterranean, adopted in June 2019, introduced a fishing effort regime for trawlers intended to achieve an overall reduction of up to 40% in five years. In December 2021, based on scientific advice, the Council introduced a holistic approach, combining effort measures for both trawlers and longliners and catch limits for deep-water shrimps. It was urgently necessary to reduce fishing mortality, in particular for hake and deep-water shrimp stocks. In order to promote gear selectivity and to establish efficient closure areas protecting juveniles and spawners, the 2022 Fishing Opportunities Council Regulation established a compensation mechanism in the effort regime for trawlers. 

In 2017, the GFCM adopted a MAP for turbot in the Black Sea, the first set of management and control measures to be implemented at regional level. The MAP was reviewed at the GFCM 2019 annual session, resulting in the adoption of a new quota allocation and a transitional TAC for 2020-2022 period. The plan allows for the carry-over of up to 15% of a contracting party’s unused quotas.

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