Fishing facts

  • More than 900 fish species are found in the Mediterranean Sea, of which about 100 are commercially exploited.
  • The Mediterranean is the only breeding ground of the Atlantic Bluefin tuna – the most valuable fish species in the world – and is a key habitat for other commercial species, including anchovy, sardines, swordfish, mackerels, red mullet, bream, and sea bass.
  • About 75% of assessed Mediterranean fish stocks are currently fished at biologically unsustainable levels (GFCM, 2020). In EU Mediterranean waters, 91% of evaluated stocks are overfished (STEFC, 2020).
  • Total Mediterranean fishing activity consists of around 227,500 fishermen working on board at least 75,000 vessels with an annual catch of around 827,000 tonnes of fish (GFCM, 2019).
  • The EU Mediterranean fishing fleet numbers about 35,738 active vessels, 80% of which are small-scale, employing 68,688 fishermen (STEFC, 2019).
  • The EU Mediterranean fleet (excluding Greece, which did not submit data) spent almost 2.1 million days-at-sea in 2017, with small-scale fishermen accounting for 65% of the days-at-sea. Fishing effort in the region increased 20% between 2013 and 2017 (STEFC, 2019).
  • The volume of discards remains high, amounting to around 18% of total catch. Bottom trawlers are responsible for the bulk of discards, generally discarding more than 40% of their catches. (GFCM, 2019).