Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

September 28, 2007 17:19 ET

Canada Continues to Build on its Achievements at NAFO

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 28, 2007) - The Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today expressed his satisfaction with the outcomes of this year's annual meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO).

"Building on our achievements of last year, NAFO has committed to new measures that will further protect our fisheries and oceans in the Northwest Atlantic, while maintaining the exclusive rights of Canada over our economic zone," said Minister Hearn.

"Our government's priorities were on reform and protecting Canada's allocations. We've made further strides on reform and strengthened our hold on allocations."

To deal head-on with overfishing in the Greenland halibut (turbot) fishery, NAFO has introduced significantly stronger control measures mandatory for all vessels involved in this fishery. For example, vessels intending to fish turbot in the NAFO Regulatory Area (NRA) must now give prior notice of the date and time that they will enter the NRA, and when they enter, these vessels must report the quantity of fish already on board. This will help Canadian patrol vessels target their inspections and help eliminate opportunities to misreport catch. In addition, turbot fishing vessels are now required to report catches more often, which will help NAFO inspectors keep closer account of total amounts being fished and tracked their catches on a continuous basis.

"Canada pushed hard for these tougher measures and I'm pleased that they were adopted by all NAFO members," said Minister Hearn. "I'm also happy to report that the Greenland halibut fisheries are closed for this year, and I would like to thank the ministers from Spain and Portugal for their action in this regard."

In addition to tighter management controls for the Greenland halibut fishery, NAFO will hold a workshop of scientists and managers in February 2008 to evaluate alternative management strategies for turbot stock rebuilding.

The reform of the NAFO Convention was another achievement for Canada at this year's meeting. In particular, the amended text negotiated by Canadian officials ensures that no NAFO member can infringe upon Canada's sovereign rights in its 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Voting procedures also give greater protection to existing quotas of fish stocks allotted to Canada. If anyone wishes to change the way quotas are allocated by NAFO, they will need to get the support of 2/3 of the NAFO members.

"As I made very clear going into this meeting, Canada's New Government will never accept any proposal that weakens our ability to manage fisheries within our own 200-mile limit," said Minister Hearn. "I am proud to announce that Canada has signed on to a better NAFO Convention. It is the right way forward for NAFO and for Canada."

"The amended Convention protects the interests of Canadians and integrates the most up-to-date decision-making and management practices," said Loyola Sullivan, Canada's Ambassador for Fisheries Conservation, who participated in the meeting in Lisbon.

In keeping with the 2006 Sustainable Fisheries Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, NAFO adopted many of Canada's recommendations to protect deep-water and cold-water corals. This includes the immediate closure, for a five-year period, of a coral protection zone to all bottom contact fishing gear in NAFO Division 3O on the Grand Banks off the southeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador between 800 and 2,000 metres.

While this is progress to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems, NAFO will also hold a special intersessional meeting in May 2008 to discuss further measures that the organization can implement to better care for the sensitive areas of the ocean.

"Over the past year, our efforts at NAFO have achieved real results - fewer serious citations on the water and a deepened commitment by all members to better manage fish stocks and oceans ecosystems," said Minister Hearn. "The results of this year's NAFO meeting build on this record of achievement."

For additional information on NAFO outcomes please visit: or

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Genevieve Gareau-Lavoie
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Steve Outhouse
    Director of Communications