SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 21, 2012) - The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) adopted a wide range of enhanced measures to protect or rebuild key fish stocks in the Northwest Atlantic and to strengthen protection for vulnerable marine ecosystems. The measures - many of which reflect recommendations from the independent NAFO Performance Review Panel Report - were adopted during the Organization's 34th Annual Meeting, which closed today in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
"As we all know, fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic represent important economic opportunities for Atlantic Canada's fishing industry and we have to continue to protect these interests," said the Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. "The Government of Canada has long played a leadership role in NAFO to ensure the long-term productivity and sustainability of key high seas and straddling stocks of importance to us. The positive results of this year's Annual Meeting - many reflecting the recommendations of the independent Performance Review Panel report - show that our efforts are working."
As in 2011, the total allowable catch decisions made at the 2012 meeting are in line with scientific advice, which is a significant step forward for the Organization and something Canada has been encouraging for some time. The continued rebuilding of the 3M cod and 3LN redfish stocks is a clear indication that the Organization's efforts are paying off.
Contracting Parties agreed to take concrete and targeted actions to strengthen certain catch reporting provisions, particularly to improve the level of detail and precision of catch verification data for monitoring and compliance purposes, as well to improve the information systematically provided to the Scientific Council in order to support scientific advice. At the same time, an external peer-review working group continues to look into the methodology used by the NAFO Scientific Council to estimate catches.
"Reliable, timely, and accurate catch reporting data is critical for transparent, science-based decision making, as well as for effective compliance monitoring and enforcement," added Minister Ashfield. "This is an issue that is important to the Government of Canada and to the Canadian fishing industry. The concrete actions this year are a step in the right direction. We look forward to the results of the peer review process so that we can work towards an effective resolution for the long term."
Building on the unprecedented, conservation-driven fishing area closures adopted in 2009, contracting members agreed to adopt a range of complementary measures that will enhance the effectiveness of existing closures and further support the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems. They also committed to discussing the possible closure of three new areas at a future meeting.
In addition, Contracting Parties adopted a focused and achievable action plan to begin implementing recommendations of the independent performance review panel report tabled in 2011 which will strengthen the Organization.
In recognition of the need for continued fiscal restraint, and as the single largest contributor to NAFO, Canada pushed for and achieved capping the budget increase to one per cent increase, contrary to requests from some Contracting Parties to increase the budget by as much as four to six per cent.
Canada also took the opportunity of the Annual Meeting to urge all Contracting Parties of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization who have not done so to ratify the amended Convention, as Canada did in 2009, as soon as possible. This Convention will further strengthen the Organization's effectiveness and help to address several of the issues raised in the course of the independent performance review.
NAFO News Release
The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization has agreed on total allowable catch and other conservation measures to protect key stocks and vulnerable marine ecosystems in the Northwest Atlantic, as well as measures to strengthen catch reporting and science-based advice. The Government of Canada is satisfied with the outcomes of the meeting, which are overall positive for Canada and its fishing industry.
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Measures Adopted at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
Contracting Parties of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) adopted a wide range of measures to protect and rebuild key fish stocks and enhance protection for vulnerable marine ecosystems at the Organization's 34th Annual Meeting in Saint Petersburg, September 17 to 21. These measures include:
Science-based decision making
Contracting parties agreed to the following total allowable catches for 2012-13, in line with the advice of the NAFO Scientific Council:
||Total Allowable Catch
|Cod (Division 3M)
|Redfish (Division 3LN)
|Redfish (Division 3M)
||6,500t (adopted in 2011)
|Redfish (Division 3O)
|Northern shrimp (Division 3L)
|Yellowtail flounder (Divisions 3LNO)
|White hake (Divisions 3NO)
|Thorny skate (Divisions 3LNO)
||7,000t (for 2013 and 2014)
|Greenland halibut (Divisions 2 + 3KLMNO)
|Squid (Subareas 3 + 4)
No directed fishery will be allowed for the following stocks: American plaice (Divisions 3LNO and 3M), capelin (Divisions 3NO), cod (Divisions 3LNO), northern shrimp (Divisions 3M and 3NO), and witch flounder (Divisions 3LNO).
Strengthening Catch Reporting and Enhancing Data Collection
Timely, accurate, and relevant catch data is a vital element of the science-based decision making process and necessary for an effective monitoring, compliance and surveillance regime. To further these objectives, Contracting Parties agreed at the 2012 Annual Meeting to:
- Require "tow-by-tow reporting", that is, inclusion of data for each trawl retrieval in logbooks required by all fishing vessels;
- Improve labelling requirements to ensure more effective traceability of the products and more detailed catch information for monitoring and scientific purposes; and
- Develop clear and practical standards for independent observer reporting and for conversion factors used to calculate catches.
In addition, Contracting Parties have agreed to share with the Scientific Council the vessel positioning data collected by NAFO in order to better inform the scientific advice provided to the NAFO Fisheries Commission. Contracting Parties also committed to finalize the ongoing peer-review process which is currently reviewing the methodology and sources of information used by the Scientific Council to produce its catch estimates.
Conservation and Rebuilding Key Stocks
Building on the successful development of Conservation Plans and Rebuilding Strategies for 3NO cod and 3LNO American plaice, Contracting Parties mandated the Working Group of Fisheries Managers and Scientists to consider Conservation Plans and Rebuilding Strategies for 3M cod, 3LN redfish and 3NO witch flounder.
Enhancing Protection for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems
Building on the unprecedented fishing area closures adopted in 2009, Contracting Parties agreed to new complementary, science-based conservation measures to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems, including:
- A new indicator species list consistent with the Food and Agriculture Organization International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fishing in the High Seas.
- A revised exploratory fishing protocol to guide bottom fishing activities in unfished areas identified as potential vulnerable marine ecosystems.
- Interim threshold levels prescribing the amount (in weight) of indicator species bycatch above which a fishing vessel master must notify the NAFO Secretariat, immediately cease fishing, and move away to at least 2 nautical miles (known as the "Encounter Protocol").
- A new Working Group of Fisheries Managers and Scientists on the Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries Management.
For more information, visit also the website of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization at www.NAFO.int (English only).