Harvest of Commercially Exploited Fish and Shellfish (EO 3)

Common Indicator 8: Total landings

Geographical scale of the assessment:
Regional, Mediterranean Sea
Contributing countries:
GFCM Contracting and Cooperating Non Contracting Parties
Mid-Term Strategy (MTS) Core Theme:
2-Biodiversity and Ecosystems
Ecological Objective:
E03: Populations of commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within biologically safe limits.
IMAP Common Indicator:
Common Indicator (CI8): Total landings
Indicator Assessment Factsheet Code:

GES Definition: Populations of selected commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within biologically safe limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock.

GES Targets:

  • State: Long term high yields
  • State: Catch  <  MSY
  • Pressure: Reduction of IUU catch
  • Pressure: Minimization of discarding and incidental catch of vulnerable species



The indicators of Good Environmental Status of Commercially Exploited fish are quantitative proxies to describe the status of a specific fish stock (i.e. the fish population from which catches are taken in a given fishery) as well as the anthropogenic pressure imposed on it through fishing activities. Those indicators are regularly used in fisheries management to assess the sustainability of fisheries, as well as the performance of management measures (Miethe et al., 2016), by monitoring how far the indicator is from previously agreed targets (i.e. reference points).

Read more

Assessment methods

The complete set of main fishery indicators adopted to assess current status of Mediterranean stocks as well as their temporal trend is reported in the last SAC Report (FAO, 2017). Below are listed the ones, for which a common methodology has been already developed (GFCM, 2017b) and discussed during the meeting of the Correspondence Group on Monitoring (CORMON), Biodiversity and Fisheries (UNEP(DEPI)/MED WG.430/3) as well as the 6th meeting of the Ecosystem Approach Coordination Group (UNEP(DEPI)/MED WG.444/6/Rev.1).

Read more

Results and Status, including trends

Mediterranean catches are composed by a variety of species, with up to 30 species contributing to 90% of the catches, but the bulk of catches comes from small pelagic species, mainly anchovy and sardine.

Total landing in the Mediterranean steadily increased from about four hundred thousand tons in 1970 to around l million tons in 1994, but subsequently declined irregularly, to a figure of around 800.000 tons in 2015. The decrease in catches since 1994 is obvious in all Mediterranean subregions. However in the Adriatic,  the declining trend was observed between mid 80’s and early 90’s, and catches have remained low since.

Read more


The temporal trend in annual production of demersal fish, crustaceans, cephalopods and small pelagic showed a rapid increase from the 70s to the beginning of the 90s, followed by a declining trend since then, obvious in all Mediterranean sub-regions with the exception of the Adriatic, where the decrease started in the mid-80s and the production has remained stable at low levels since the 90s. Small pelagics (composed of few species like anchovy, sardine and other clupeids) are by far the dominant group, representing almost the 38% of total landings in the GFCM area of application. On the contrary, the landings of demersal species show large differences among sub-regions, mainly due to different species and fishing activities. The western Mediterranean is the area with the highest annual production, amounting to around 270.000 tons, whereas the other three Mediterranean sub-regions show a similar yield (160.000 tons).

Read more

Key messages

  • The maintenance of a steady production of fish from Mediterranean fisheries is a priority in the context of blue growth and food security for coastal communities.
  • Mediterranean catches are stagnant, with current yields at around 800.000 tons, below the maximum yield of around 1 million tons, obtained in the mid-90’s.

Read more


FAO (2016). The State of the Mediterranean and Black Sea Fisheries. General fisheries for the Mediterranean. Rome, Italy. 152pp.

FAO (2017). General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean. Report of the nineteenth session of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Fisheries (Ljubljana, Slovenia, 16–19 May 2017) 184 pp.

GFCM (2014a). Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) - Subcommittee on Stock Assessment (SCSA), Report of the Working Group on Stock Assessment of Small Pelagic species (WGSASP), Bar, Montenegro (28 January – 1 February 2014), 52pp.

GFCM (2014b). First MedSuit Regional Workshop on indicators and targets to ensure GES of commercially exploited marine populations in the GFCM area. Rome, Italy, 6–7 November 2014. 14pp.

GFCM (2017a). GFCM Data Collection Reference Framework (DCRF). Version: 2017. 115pp152pp.

GFCM (2017b). Good environmental status indicators, GFCM:SAC19/2017/Inf.20

Miethe, T., Dobby, H. & McLay, A. (2016). The Use of Indicators for Shellfish Stocks and Fisheries: A Literature Review. Scottish Mar. and Freshw. Sci., 7: 2043-7722.

Sauzade, D. & Rousset, N. (2013).Greening the Mediterranean fisheries: tentative assessment of the economic leeway. Technical report result the analytical work of Plan Bleu, Valbonne.


CORMON        Correspondence Group on Monitoring

CWP                Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics

DCRF               Data Collection Reference Framework

EAF                 FAO Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries

EcAp               Ecosystem Approach

GES                 Good Environmental Status

GFCM              General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean

GSA                 Geographical Sub Areas

IUU                  Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (fishing estimates)

MSY                 Maximum Sustainable Yield

RFMO             Regional Fisheries Management Organization

SAC                 GFCM Scientific Advisory Committee on Fisheries

SAFs                Stock Assessment Forms

SoMFi             The State of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries

STECF             European Union Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries

WGSAs            Working Groups on Stock Assessment

For more information please visit the GFCM website: