This publication is part of the Studies and Reviews series of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), which focuses on specific aspects of scientific interest for Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries.
This atlas is the fruit of the coordinated work of 22 researchers from different scientific institutes and stems from an experience on fish maturity staging carried out at the Mediterranean level. It falls within one of the main targets of the mid-term strategy (2017–2020) towards the sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries implemented by the GFCM, which aims, among other things, to enhance knowledge and expertise on fisheries namely by strengthening data collection and information.
Since 1984, several institutes in Italy have been involved in national and international scientific fisheries programmes, focused on the study of the biology, ecology, population dynamics and the assessment of the most important fishery resources, including Merluccius merluccius, Mullus barbatus and Sardina pilchardus. Since the beginning of 2000, biological, environmental, technical, and socio-economic data on fish catch have been regularly collected (including within the GFCM Data Collection Reference Framework [DCRF] and, at the European level, the Data Collection Framework [DCF]).
Since the beginning of data collection, there has been a need for strong regional coordination on the methodology and maturity criteria and for a general agreement among maturity stagers and laboratories. In this context, a working group on fish maturity staging was created in 2014 under the supervision of the Società Italiana di Biologia Marina (SIBM). This atlas includes the main achievements of this working group. This document has been produced with the financial support of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.