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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 Malta in the FAO Website, here.


Malta has been a member of the GFCM since the 29th of April 1995. The country is party to the UN Law of the Sea Convention (20 Mai 1993) and the UN Fish Stock Agreement of 1995 (11 November 2001). Malta has not ratified the FAO Compliance Agreement of 1993 nor the FAO Port State Measures Agreement of 2009.


At local level a ceiling fishing capacity is applicable. In addition, a 25-mile management zone around Malta is applicable, which is limited to fishing vessels smaller than 12 metres overall length using other than towed gears. Trawlers not exceeding an overall length of 24 metres are allowed to fish in certain areas within the management zone, in line with EU legislation (Council Regulation (EC) 1967/2006). Ceiling fishing capacity is also applicable. The Enforcement of Sea Fishing Conventions Order, 2011 (LN209/11) and its amendment (LN282/11) also aims to enforce provisions established by the EC, ICCAT, and GFCM at national level.

Access regime to fisheries resources

No local fishing vessel can be used for commercial fishing in the fishing waters or any area outside the fishing waters where a license or permit to fish is required, unless it is entered in the record of fishing vessels and authorized to fish by a license or permit. The certificate of entry in the record of local fishing vessels is valid for one year and renewable. Contraventions to these requirements are subject to a fine (Cap. 425, Art. 7 par. 2; 8).
Fishing by a foreign fishing vessel in the fishing waters is prohibited unless authorized by a license (Cap. 425, Art. 10 para. 1; 11). Contraventions to this Article are subject to a fine. Master of a foreign fishing vessel that has fish on board shall:

  • prior to entry of the vessel into the fishing waters; or
  • prior to the vessel leaving an area of the fishing waters in which the master, owner or charterer is licensed to fish, notify a fisheries protection officer of the amounts, descriptions and presentation of fish on board the vessel.,

Administrative authorizations and licenses

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Main fisheries laws and regulations

Conservation and control measures

Restrictions apply on fisheries resources

Area and time restrictions

Through Government Notice 851/2010 in relation to Special Areas of Conservation of International Importance under the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006 (LN311/06), the Malta Environment and Planning Authority has declared a number of sites to be Special Areas of Conservation of International Importance.

Closed seasons are applicable for bluefin tuna, lampuki and swordfish, through the Enforcement of Sea Fishing Conventions Order, 2011 (LN 209/11) and its amendment (LN282/11).

Special areas of conservation of international importance are present around the Maltese islands and are identified under Government Notice 851 of 2010. In particular, five marine areas are designated as Special Areas of Conservation as per requirements of the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006 (LN311/06) as follows:

  • Marine Area between Rdum Majjiesa and Rasir-Raheb (Government Notice 112 of 2007)
  • Marine Area in the limits of Ghar Lapsi and Filfla (Government Notice 851 of 2010)
  • Marine Area in the limits of Dwejra (Gozo) (Government Notice 851 of 2010)
  • Marine Area in the limits of Mgarr ix-Xini (Gozo) (Government Notice 851 of 2010)
  • Marine Area in the Northeast of Malta (Government Notice 851 of 2010)

These marine areas currently designated as Special Areas of Conservation are not subject to management measures as yet. Therefore there are no restrictions of fishing activities within such areas.

Minimum sizes

Minimum sizes are regulated for bluefin tuna in line with Council Regulation (EC) 302/2009. The minimum size for bluefin tuna is of 30 kg or 115 cm. Derogations exist which allow for a minimum size for bluefin tuna of 8 kg or 75 cm to be applicable for bluefin tuna caught in the Mediterranean by the coastal artisanal fishery for fresh fish by baitboats, longliners and handliners. In line with Annex III of Council Regulation (EC) 1967/2006, minimum sizes for selected marine organisms are also applicable.

Protected species

A number of animal and plant species of national interest in need of strict protection have been identified. Some of these include:

Species Scientific name
Maltese Killifish (Aphanius fasciatus)
Short-Snouted Sea-Horse (Hippocampus hippocampus [= Hippocampus heptagonus])
Long-Snouted Sea-Horse (Hippocampus guttulatus [= Hippocampus biscuspis])
Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus)

A comprehensive list may be found under the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations, 2006 (LN311/06), under the Environment Protection Act (Cap. 435) and Development and Planning Act (Cap. 356) particularly Part IV.

Marine Mammals and marine turtles are all protected, as well as a number of fish species and endemic species. Some of these include the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta), and the endemic Maltese Freshwater Crab (Potamon fluviatile ssp. lanfrancoi). The local legislation also incorporates other international instruments like the SPA and Biodiversity Protocol of the Barcelona Convention and the Bern convention, under which additional marine species are also protected like all species of Cystoseira (with the exception of C. compressa)

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Fishing gear and methods

Prohibited fishing gear and methods include:

  • Fishing with trawl nets, dredges, shore seines or similar nets above coralligenous habitats and mäerl beds;
  • The use of towed dredges and trawl nets fisheries at depths beyond 1 000m;
  • Fishing by toxic, soporific or corrosive substances; electric shock generators; explosives; substances that can explode if mixed;
  • towed devices for harvesting red coral or other type of corals or coral-like organisms; pneumatic hammers or other percussive instruments for the collection, in particular, of bivalve molluscs digging within the rocks;
  • St. Andrew's cross and similar grabs for harvesting, in particular, red coral or other type of corals or coral-like organisms;
  • panels of netting smaller than 40mm mesh size opening for bottom trawlers;
  • Spear-guns if used in conjunction with underwater breathing apparatus (aqualung) or at night from sunset to dawn;
  • The use of towed gears within 3 nautical miles of the coast or within the 50 m isobath where that depth is reached at a shorter distance from the coast;
  • The use of trawl nets within 1,5 nautical miles of the coast;
  • The use of boat dredges and of hydraulic dredges within 0,3 nautical miles of the coast.

Requirements due to fishing vessels


The system used by the Maltese Fisheries Control authorities is the MaltaStat Fishing Vessel Register Database. This consists of detailed information and characteristics on all fishing vessels registered in the Maltese Fishing Vessel Register.A very important segment of the MaltaStat Fishing Vessel Register Information System is the Licence Archive. All vessel licences issued are managed in this archive, where users are allowed to modify only information regarding the licence items, such as the licence number and date of issue.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Reporting obligation

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 of catch

Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (CAP425) and Council Regulation (EC) 1005/2008 compose the legal framework for landing obligations.
Malta abides by the Certification Scheme for imported fishery products as stipulated by Council Regulation (EC) 1005 /2008. In Malta the following are subject to an inspection at landing: 1. Catches of bottom trawlers
2. Catches of vessels involved in the fishery using Fish Aggregating Devices
3. Catches of the lampara fishery
4. Catches of Swordfish
5. Catches of Blufin Tuna.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject


The onboard observers are engaged on vessels authorized to participate in the BFT season, including long liners, tug vessels and other supporting vessels.

Vessel Monitoring System

VMS – Article 9(2) of Council Regulation (EC) 1224/2009 Monitoring Control Centre - Article 9 (7) of Council Regulation (1224/2009

To monitor small scale fisheries licensed to fish for DOL, Malta requires that all fishing vessels authorized for DOL (lampuka) (Coryphaena hippurus) fisheries have a tracking device installed. A cost effective solution was to equip vessels from 6 m to 9 m with a GPRS tracker.

Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject


The competent authorities are Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA), Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change.

All vessels presumed to have carried out IUU are reported to the EU Commission for insertion in the EU’s IUU list.

In line with the Fishing Vessels Regulations, 2004 (LN407/04) the issued license is to be kept on board the vessel at all times. Fishing vessels of all categories could be used for the purposes described in the license. The Fishing Vessels Regulations, 2004 (LN407/04) also stipulate that if a fishing vessel registered in one of the professional categories does not register a catch and sale of fish of value according to its category and length, such vessel is to be recorded in a temporary register where it can remain for three years during which period it could restart its commercial fishing activity. On elapse of the three years where no catches have been registered, the vessel loses its professional license and is registered in the recreational category. The fishing vessel license is the property of the national authorities. A fishing license is granted to the master, owner or charterer in respect of a specified fishing vessel. Licenses are all renewable on 1 January of each year unless there is a strong reason to refuse. The license is renewed as long as the necessary fees are paid and documents requested are presented. The license or fishing right cannot be granted without the ownership of a vessel. If a vessel is scrapped, the respective license is lost, unless the angler requests to obtain an authorization to replace the vessel. In the case where replacements or repairs are being affected, a non-operative license is issued. Scrapping with public aid will mean the deletion of the license as well. When a vessel is sold to third parties the license always follows the vessel. Article 4 of the Fishing Vessels Regulations (LN407/04) sets also provisions in terms of safety equipment and seaworthiness of the vessel and machinery. The Merchant Shipping Act (Cap. 234) provides for health and safety measures.

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

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)
Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)
European Union Legislation
Council Regulation (EC) 1224/2009
Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (CAP425)



This sections will be updated in due course.


Relevant GFCM Decisions on this subject

Malta Government Gazette (Department of Information):; LaMed Questionnaire.