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North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference

CANADA - The 15th North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference was hosted by Gail Shea, Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Randy Kamp, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, in O'Leary, Prince Edward Island.

Fisheries Ministers and their representatives from the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation attended the Conference, as did the Representative of the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Ministers and their representatives agreed that accurately measured fisheries are a condition for sustainable and responsible management. All catches should be fully accounted for in order to ensure that scientists have sufficiently detailed and accurate information to develop sound fisheries management advice. They noted the increasing importance of ecosystem approaches to fisheries management and the need for greater information on the impacts of bycatch, discards and marine mammals on fish stocks.

Fisheries managers must develop effective policies and regulations to enable the full accounting of catches as well as landings. This promotes transparency and also provides confidence that quotas from bilateral and regional agreements are respected. Technology, such as the wide spread use of electronic catch reporting, helps in this regard and facilitates the sharing of information.

Accurate catch reporting is clearly a challenging area and requires a change in fish harvesting culture. It is an investment both in the sustainability of the resource and the confidence of the consumer. Sustainable development must always include healthy stocks and healthy economics.

Ministers and their representatives stressed the critical importance of engaging the fishing industry itself. They agreed that fisheries often sustain coastal communities where other employment is not easily available. Positive incentives to comply with new approaches to catch reporting were also identified as an essential step when asking for real changes in behaviour and accountability from harvesters.

Ministers and their representatives agreed to work together both bilaterally and multilaterally to achieve improved accounting of catches and support enhanced scientific cooperation.

The 16th North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference will be held in Iceland in 2011.