CopeMed II is a project under the responsibility of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Management Division (FIMF). Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Rome.

Coordination to Support Fisheries Management in the Western and Central Mediterranean.
CopeMed Phase II

The Project


CopeMed II
Cooordination to support fisheries management in the western and central Mediterranean
(GCP/INT/028/SPA - GCP/INT/006/EC)


The second phase of the CopeMed Project started in 2008. The Project was built on the achievements of the first phase of the Project (1996-2005) while strengthening the established framework of international cooperation, which fosters sub-regional approaches in fisheries research and management. The Project aims to strengthen technical and scientific capacities for fisheries assessment and management in the Central and Western Mediterranean, taking into account environmental, biological, economical, social and institutional considerations. To this end, it promotes scientific cooperation among the coastal nations through common methodologies, standardized data-gathering as well as through joint multi-disciplinary analyses.

The Project supports national and regional fisheries management processes taking advantage of the scientific networks and knowledge developed during more than twenty years of cooperation. The Project attempts to reduce the differences in fisheries research and management capacities between northern and southern countries and try to encourage a sub-regional approach to fisheries coherent with the current trends established by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean.

Re-qualifying the artisanal fisheries sector in the Mediterranean, particularly in the fragile coastal zones is essential to the livelihood of the coastal fishing communities. The Project implements pilot activities to assist the artisanal fisheries sector taking into consideration all the drivers that currently impact the coastal zones as climate change, pollution and competing use of coastal areas with other human activities through an ecosystem approach to fisheries.


The main areas of intervention are the following:

  • Support the sub regional cooperation (north-south and south-south).

  • Promote institutional commitment to the shared management of common resources.

  • Assist in the development of standardized systems of data collection to produce the necessary statistical information (biological and socio-economic) for fisheries management.

  • Strengthen regional scientific cooperation to promote research in its biological, ecological, socio-economic and institutional dimensions.

  • Develop capacity for an ecosystem approach to fisheries.


During its first phase, the CopeMed project helped to improve the knowledge of the state of marine resources and helped to standardize common methodologies related to bio-economic data collection and analysis in the western and central Mediterranean. Above all the Project encouraged the exchange of fish-related information among participating countries and created the basis of a sub-regional cooperation network in this part of the Mediterranean. This helped strengthen the institutional capacity of the southern Mediterranean countries for coordinated and cooperative fisheries research and management, in line with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Building on these results, the Phase II of the project has obtained important achievements:

  • The establishment of regular Working Groups for the assessment of stocks of interest to Spain, Morocco and Algeria in the Alboran Sea (GSAs 1, 3 and 4). A WG on dolphinfish Coryphaena hippurus also meets less regularly to exchange scientific information and to test alternative methods for the assessment of this stock of importance to the sub-region. More recently the Project, in coordination with MedSudMed, is facilitating discussions between Algeria and Tunisia to create a new WG for the assessment of priority stocks of common interest for the two countries in the boundaries between GSA 4 and 12. The work done in the WGs has proved instrumental to allow countries in the sub-region to participate and contribute to the GFCM Working Groups on Stock Assessment of demersal and pelagic species.

  • The regular training of national experts on methods for data analysis and assessment of stocks. Up until recently these trainings were performed on an ad hoc basis, upon countries request, and without a medium-term strategy. Since 2017, the Project, in collaboration with other Regional Projects, GFCM and JRC, is implementing a Summer School in Quantitative Fisheries Stock Assessment, with the goal to provide a regular and extended training on contemporary methods for data analysis and stock assessment to enhance the quality of scientific advice in the region.

  • The provision of training opportunities on other themes, such as socioeconomic data collection and analysis, ecosystem approaches to fisheries, survey methodologies, identification of fish eggs and larvae, etc.

  • The support to countries to obtain basic biological data for the assessment of priority species.

  • The development of capacity to mainstream the ecosystem approach to fisheries management, with pilot actions focused on small-scale fisheries.

Lastly, but not least, the project has been enabling the active participation of experts from Western and Central Mediterranean countries in sub-regional and regional activities promoted by the Regional projects, the GFCM and other regional organizations.


The fishery research institutions of the region and the national and regional management bodies are in a better position to formulate fishery management and development strategies. The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) benefits of the strong cooperation among nations that are now in a levelled play field to assume and to comply with new obligations imposed for the sustainability of fisheries. The ultimate beneficiary is the fishery sector – from resource users to the various stakeholders – which now may rely on decisions that are being progressively taken based on sound multidisciplinary knowledge of the fishery system.


Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia.


The Project has been funded in different periods and proportions by Spain through its Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID), the General Secretary for Fisheries of the Spanish Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment and more recently, and with a substantial contribution also by the General Direction of Fisheries and Marine Affairs of the European Commission.


FAO’s vast experience and knowledge on fisheries statistics and marine resources, its established contacts and collaboration networks with the west and central Mediterranean countries and its ongoing fishery projects in the Mediterranean give it the capacity to execute the Project.

Many of the scientific results of the Project support the work of the GFCM and its subsidiary bodies. The Project is fully consistent with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its technical guidelines, including the International Plans of Action, with the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries and the voluntary Guidelines for Small Scale Fisheries.


The second phase of CopeMed started in February 2008. With an initial planned duration of three years, the project has been annually extended since then upon request of countries and the renewed support of donors.

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