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This FNAM with fully updated data on fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean is the result of the effort of many dedicated scientists over a period of more than 25 years. Below an overview of the FNAM's history.


In 1965 a Panel of Experts for a Catalogue of Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean was established under the auspices of UNESCO to develop an extensive generic listing of fish in European waters. For many years the lack of such a list had been obvious. There was a great need for a critical catalogue which would give both definitive nomenclature and information under other headings (synonymy, distribution, eggs, larval and young stages, otoliths, iconography) all referring to a composite bibliography.

A Scientific Committee (Prof. Th. Monod, Dr. J. C. Hureau, Dr. G. Krefft, Dr. J. Nielsen, Prof. E. Postel, Dr. A. N. Svetovidov, Prof. E. Tortonese, Dr. A. Wheeler) took up the task of creating such a catalogue. Some 62 authors were contacted to cover the 221 fish families present in the area.

The geographical area was defined as follows: Northern boundary: the 80° N parallel from the east coast of Greenland to the 65° E meridian. Eastern boundary: the 65° E meridian as far as the western coast of Novaya Zemlya, thence following the coast of Europe and Morocco as far as the 30° N parallel; the White Sea, the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea are included in the area; the Sea of Azov is excluded. Southern boundary: the 30° N parallel to its intersection with the 30° W meridian (Madeira and the Azores to be included). Western boundary: the 30° W meridian, north to the intersection with the 60° N parallel, thence the 60° N parallel to the south coast of Greenland; the east coast of Greenland.

In view of the varied and changing views on the higher classification of fishes it was decided to follow the arrangement used in the Zoological Record (Pisces section) [Vol. 105,1968 (1970)]. Concerning the brackish waters, the following families are omitted from the check-list: Esocidae, Umbridae, Cyprinidae, Cobitidae and Percidae.

The Check List of the Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and of the Mediterranean, or short CLOFNAM, comprised two books: one with the actual checklist of more than 1200 species and one with over 5000 literature references. These books served workers in a large number of disciplines: zoology, marine biology, oceanology, fisheries, embryology, parasitology, ecology and zoogeography, and was used in libraries and laboratories, museums and universities.

The CLOFNAM was published in 1973 by UNESCO (J.-C. Hureau and Th. Monod, ed.), and formed the first stage of a much vaster work: the preparation of the Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and of the Mediterranean (FNAM). FNAM included classification keys, illustrations and descriptions of all taxa of the list.


The printed version of the FNAM, published by UNESCO in 1984 and 1986, is a three-volume work and describes and illustrates all the known marine fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. This publication was a logical follow up to the Check-list of the Fishes of the Northeastern Atlantic and of the Mediterranean (CLOFNAM).

The geographical area covered by this guide is the same as that for CLOFNAM and similarly no bathymetric limit has been imposed. It therefore includes all species recorded from this area, from estuaries, lagoons and brackish waters down to abyssal depths. The species are essentially those listed in CLOFNAM, but with additions (and subtractions) resulting from numerous taxonomic studies completed since 1973. Even six years after publication of CLOFNAM, the supplement added 65 species, 22 genera and 5 families (Megalopidae, Sillaginidae, Draconettidae, Bythitidae and Thaumathichthyidae, the Bythitidae including a part of the former Brotulidae). The FNAM contains 1256 species in 218 families.

The last ten years have also seen changes in the classification of families or of genera within these families. It was considered preferable, therefore, to bring the classification up to date, but, at least in a conservative way, to retain the CLOFNAM family, generic and species numbers to facilitate retrieval of data and to assist those who have adopted the CLOFNAM numbers for museum storage or indexing purposes.

For the CLOFNAM area, there is no other book that covers the entire area, that includes all the known species or that carries the authority of a major specialist for almost every family. This guide is addressed, therefore, to a wide range of users and is intended for those without formal taxonomic training as well as for museum workers and other specialists. The primary aims are to enable species to be identified correctly and to summarize what is known of their habitat preferences, food, production and geographical distribution. To manage our environment properly, both taxonomy and biology are involved. No biological or fishery data, however carefully collected, are of ultimate value unless they are tied to an absolutely correct identification of the species concerned. Similarly, taxonomy is a sterile dictionary if it is confined to specimens on shelves. The rational exploitation of a resource such as fishes requires that taxonomy and biology interact to produce a framework; it is as a contribution to that framework that the present guide has been produced. It is not infallible, however. The fishes of the CLOFNAM area are relatively few and well known compared to those of many tropical regions, but readers will notice many families where the taxonomy, biology or distributional data are still uncertain. The guide will have achieved one of its purposes if it encourages taxonomists and biologists to try to fill the remaining gaps.

Great praise must be given to the authors who have compiled the families in these three volumes. Many were already hard-pressed by commitments to other multi-authored projects and all of them have contributed, not just their specialist knowledge, but also that most precious commodity—time. Special thanks are owed to those who valiantly stepped in at the last moment to take over the inevitable 'left-over' families. Some of the drawings were taken from scientific literature, but others were prepared by the authors and others again were specially commissioned. Some are signed, many are not but all are gratefully acknowledged and the artists thanked for their invaluable contribution. In the preparation of these volumes, including the arrangement of meetings for members of the editorial committee, UNESCO has played a major role, both financially and in terms of encouragement and help. We express our sincere gratitude.