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Welcome to the GFCM Database on National Fisheries Legislation

Please read the 'Introduction' in the Main Page before starting.

N.B: the below reported contents are currently subject to revision and will be thus updated in due course.


For further information, please visit the Fisheries and Aquaculture Country Profile of Italy in the FAO Website, here


Italy has been a member of the GFCM since the Mai 29th 1951. The country is party to the UN Law of the Sea Convention (13 January 1995) and the UN Fish Stock Agreement of 1995 (19 December 2003). Italy has not ratified the FAO Compliance Agreement of 1993. Furthermore, Italy is a party to FAO Port State Measures Agreement of 2009 through the EU (see Article 1.h. of the Agreement). Italy is an EU member State since 1 January 1958. Furthermore, the conservation of marine biological resources (under the common fisheries policy) is an exclusive competence of the EU (Article 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, TFUE) and fisheries is a shared competence between the EU and its member States (Article 4 of the TFUE). Thus, most of the Italian fisheries and aquaculture legislation are covered by the EU Common Fisheries Policy. Therefore some of the paragraphs below are linked to the EU legislative database where the EU regulations are developed.


In italy, the Administrative Regions retain competence over fisheries in internal waters and until recently did not have an important role in maritime fisheries management.
This has changed however through the principle of subsidiarity that defines operations for the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) as well as Italian legislation. Administrative Regions, through the management funds and projects, have assumed a greater importance, for example through certain types of Management Plans.
The principle of subsidiarity is also operational on a local level and through the involvement of stakeholders. This is mentioned different times in Italian legislation. Regions also have competence on aquaculture management.

Access regime to fisheries resources

The European and Italian legislation provides several and many important types of fisheries Management Plans:
From the National legislation:
• Three-year National Program (D.M 154/2004).
From the EU legislation:
• National Management Plans on species (reg. (EC) 2371/2002 - on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the common fisheries policy);
• Management Plans for specific fisheries systems (reg. (EC) 1967/2006 - concerning management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources in the Mediterranean Sea);
• local or regional Management Plans (according to the provisions of Reg. (EC) 1198/2006 - on the European Fisheries Fund) which takes into account the specificities of different areas.

D.P.R. 1639/68 classifies fishing activity in four categories (art. 9):
- local costal fishing, up to 6 miles from the coast;
- near-coastal fishing, up to 40 miles from the coast;
- high-sea fishing, in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea;
- oceanic fishing, beyond the Straits.
Fishing licences were introduced into the Italian legislation by the Article 4 of Law 41/82 to replace the previous fishing permits (Article 12, 963/65).
Additionally, the D.M. 26.7.1995 specifies the procedure for granting the licences (that the fishers asked directly to Ministry) and divides the various “fishing systems” according to the fishing gear used. Therefore, 12 different systems, corresponding to as many fishing gears, may be issued.

Every boat must have one fisheries license but one boat can be authorized to use more than one “fishery system”. Fishing vessels may be classified on the basis of their type of licence and of their maximum distance from the coast within which they are authorized to operate. This distance mainly depends on their on-board safety equipment and seaworthiness certificate issued by a special technical office (“RINA”, the company managing the Italian naval Registry). Existing also some special permissions for some specific activities or species: e.g. Bluefin tuna (with time restrictions). The system of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) exists only for Bluefin tuna.

In the Italian legislation, the distinction between large scale fishery and small scale fishery (“piccola pesca”) is very important.

The D.M. 14.9.1999 defines artisanal fishing as the fishing carried out by vessels:
having an overall length of less than 12 metres;
operating within the 12 mile zone;
having one or more of the following licences: passive gears, drift nets, longlines, harpoon.

It also exists the possibility to create consortiums between fishers belonging to the same District with powers of self-control and management of the fishing activities in the same District (Co.GE.PA) as well as for the bivalve molluscs (CO.GE.VO).

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Conservation and management measures

Areas and time restrictions

Biological Protected Areas (Zone di Tutela Biologica - ZTBs): as laid down in L. 963/65 and D.P.R. 1639/1968, the creation of Biological Protected Areas has the purpose of monitoring and controlling fishing activities in sites where - based on scientific evidence - reproduction or growth of marine species of economic relevance or depleted by overexploitation take place.
In most cases, the designation of a Biological Protected Area implies a ban on fishing only with specified systems or gear, usually bottom trawl or pelagic trawl.
In this case the Authority that makes the decision is the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies. Until now, the Ministry has designated 13 Biological Protected Areas and the first four were established by a Ministerial Decree of 16 June 1998.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs):
Marine Protected Areas are 27. They cover a total of about 188.000 hectares of sea surface and about 603.54 km of coast. There are also two National Parks with sea coasts (76.000 hectares).

The Authority that makes the decision in this case is the Ministry of Environment and Territory and Sea Protection.

Each area is divided into three types of zones with different levels of protection.
Italy also has a sanctuary of marine mammals or “cetacean sanctuary” and 2 submarine parks: the underwater park of Baia in the Gulf of Pozzuoli and the one of Gaiola in the Gulf of Naples. Their marine environment has a high historical, archaeological-environmental and cultural value.
In Italy there is a period of one or two months in which the use of trawling nets is temporary prohibited (“fermo pesca”). This measure exists from many years in the Adriatic Sea but in the last years was introduced also in Tyrrhenian Regions and in Sicily. Overall there are periods of fishing closure for particular species, like Bluefin tuna and Swordfish. But normally this periods are established by ICCAT/European Commission and only adopted by Italian Government.
Closed season exists also for some species of shell fish like clam (two months) razor clam (six months in Adriatic Sea and two in Tyrrhenian Sea) and for other species, but they are different between different Regions or Maritime District.

Minimum sizes

Regulation (EC) 1967/2006 - Article 9 For towed nets, other than those referred to in Paragraph 4, the minimum mesh size shall be: (1) until 30 June 2008: 40 mm; (2) from 1 July 2008, the net referred to in Point 1 shall be replaced by a square-meshed net of 40 mm at the cod-end or, at the duly justified request of the ship owner, by diamond meshed net of 50 mm.

Also, minimum sizes of marine organisms exist for many species

Protected species

This subject is covered by the European Union legislation.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Fishing gears and fishing methods used

Minimum distances and depths for the use of fishing gear Reg.(EC) 1967/2006 - Article 13 1. The use of towed gears shall be prohibited within 3 nautical miles of the coast or within the 50 m isobaths where that depth is reached at a shorter distance from the coast. 2. The use of trawl nets shall be prohibited within 1,5 nautical miles of the coast. The use of boat dredges and of hydraulic dredges shall be prohibited within 0,3 nautical miles of the coast. 3. The use of purse seines shall be prohibited within 300 meters of the coast or within the 50 meters isobaths where that depth is reached at a shorter distance from the coast. A purse seine shall not be deployed at depths less than 70 %


Main fisheries laws and regulations

Management of maritime fishery is a competence of the Fishery and Aquaculture General Directorate of Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies.

● L 963/1965 - Maritime fisheries discipline.
● D.P.R. 2 October 1968, n. 1639 - Executive Regulation of the L. 963/1965.
● L 41/1982 - Plane for rationalization and develop of maritime fishery (repealed).
● D.Lgs. 153/2004 - Application of L. 38/2003 on maritime fisheries.
● D.Lgs. 154/2004 - Fisheries and aquaculture modernization.
All these regulations consider sustainability in its various dimensions (ecological/economic/social) as a prioritary management goal.

Monitoring, control and surveillance

Register and Vessel marking

This subject is covered by the European Union legislation.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Port State measures

This subject is covered by the European Union legislation.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject


This subject is covered by the European Union legislation.

Landing obligations and Logbook

This subject is covered by the European Union legislation.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Vessel Monitoring System

An important instrument for the surveillance activity is the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), carried out through the devices named “blue box”: the Reg. (EC) 2371/2002 provides that, beginning on 1 January 2005, fishing vessels with an overall length exceeding 15 m “shall have installed on board a functioning system which allows detection and identification of that vessel by remote monitoring systems”. Subsequent Regulation (UE) 404/2011 lays down “detailed provisions regarding satellite-based Vessel Monitoring Systems”.
The monitoring system should be capable of automatically deliver data at least every two hours to the National Fishery Monitoring Centre (FMC). The Member State should record and store the data for a specified period. Moreover, every six months, the Member State should submit to the Commission a report on the operation of its FMC.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

IUU Fishing regulations and sanctions

In Italy, the maritime fisheries’ monitoring & control activity is carried out by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies through the “Capitanerie di Porto” (Italian Coast Guard). Also Police Forces, which have judicial policing powers, may control fishing in both territorial and inland waters. In compliance with Community Directives, the Italian Coast Guard Headquarters set up a network of Control Centres as part of its Operations Centres, at both central and local level: i) at central level, the “Centro di Controllo Nazionale della Pesca” (CCNP, National Fishing Control Centre); and ii) at local level, within 16 “Direzioni Marittime” (Maritime Directorates), the “Centro di Controllo Area Pesca” (CCAP - Fishing Control Sub Centres). The personnel of It.C.G. exercises its control over the full cycle of fisheries: at sea, on land, at sales outlets and supply centres. The control at sea is usually carried out through naval aircrafts or surface vessels.

An annual control and inspection program of all the activity concerning Bluefin tuna was laid down in order to apply the provisions of ICCAT and UE Commission legislation (ie Reg. CE 302/09 and ICCAT Recommendation 09-11)

An annual control and inspection program against the illegal use of driftnets was set up in order to ensure this type of gear is fully banned. Until a long-term Management Plan for Swordfish will be planned, ICCAT recommends to prohibit cacthing of SWO during the period from 1 October to 30 November each year.

Sea contest - main tasks 1. Ensure compliance with the Reg. 1967/2006 rules especially concerning the: - use of allowed fishing gear; - respect of minimum distance from the coast; - protection of certain marine species. 2. Ensure compliance with IUU rules.

Land contest - main tasks 1. detection of frauds; 2. control of correct tags; 3. control of the traceability of fisheries and aquaculture products; 4. control of documents which fisheries products shall be accompanied by.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject
REC. GFCM/33/2009/8 on the establishment of a list of vessels presumed to have carried out IUU fishing in the GFCM area of application

Principal Legal Measures on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance

Principal Legal Measures on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance

European Union Legislation
Landing of catch
European Union Legislation
International Agreements Council Regulation of 20 June 2011 on the approval, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (2011/443/EU)
European Union Legislation



Main aquaculture laws and regulations

Main legislations
Decree No. 79 on the procedure for the issue and renewal of the authorization required for mariculture installations at more than one kilometre from the coast
Decree laying down the three-year national programme on fisheries and aquaculture (2013-2015)
Decree on the computerized management of annual programmes on plant production, animal production, aquaculture, importation and preparation of organic products
Legislative Decree No. 4 rearranging the national legislation on fisheries and aquaculture
Decree implementing Regulation (EC) No. 710/2009 amending Regulation (EC) No. 889/2008 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No. 834/2007, as regards laying down detailed rules on organic aquaculture animal and seaweed production


Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject