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NW Atlantic Fisheries Adopts Measures To Protect Key Fish Stocks

Sustainability Politics +2 more

CANADA - The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (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.

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The measures many of which reflect recommendations from the independent NAFO Performance Review Panel Report were adopted during the Organisations 34th Annual Meeting, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

As we all know, fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic represent important economic opportunities for Atlantic Canadas fishing industry and we have to continue to protect these interests, said 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 years 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 Organisation 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 Organizations 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 Organisation.

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 Organizations effectiveness and help to address several of the issues raised in the course of the independent performance review.