Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

September 29, 2014 16:42 ET

Canada Wraps-Up Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Annual Meeting

VIGO, SPAIN--(Marketwired - Sept. 29, 2014) - On the heels of this year's Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Annual Meeting, Fisheries and Oceans Canada highlighted the various management decisions taken by the Organization, with a view to ensuring conservation and sustainability.

As part of this commitment to sustainability, NAFO Contracting Parties agreed to close the shrimp fishery in NAFO Division 3L, east of Newfoundland and Labrador. This was a difficult decision that was not taken lightly by Canada, and reflects the advice of the Scientific Council, which has been pointing to a continuing decline of the stock over the past few years. Current figures had the biomass below the threshold of acceptable limits. For some time, scientists have been observing changes in the ecosystem, particularly as they relate to warming ocean temperatures. While this change may be beneficial for groundfish stocks, it appears to be unfavorable to shellfish, such as snow crab and shrimp.

Other conservation efforts by the organization appear to have borne fruit. The Witch flounder stock in NAFO Division 3NO (south-east of Newfoundland and Labrador) is currently on the rise following a 21-year moratorium - the third groundfish stock to be reopened in recent years. With a 60 percent quota share, a moderate resumption of fishing activity is good news for Canadian industry. Canada is equally committed to ensuring Witch flounder stock levels continue to rise and will take the appropriate measures to encourage this objective, including supporting the completion of a full stock assessment by the Scientific Council in 2015. Division 3LN Redfish, which is fished out of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, also continues to show good signs of growth, resulting in an increased Total Allowable Catch for the coming year and approval of a management strategy that will see a phased increase in the TAC in subsequent years.

Canada was pleased that measures on tow by tow catch reporting were unanimously approved. Catch reporting is fundamental to ensuring that scientific research and catch estimates are accurate and truly representative, allowing for more precision and confidence in management measures. The new provision will require the submission of tow by tow reporting, which is a more detailed account. These detailed reports will be submitted at the conclusion of each trip to better inform the scientific and management efforts. Increased accuracy in catch reporting has been of paramount importance to the management of regional and international fisheries and Canada has been a leader on this front.

Canada also co-sponsored measures to further protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME). As a result of these interventions, one of the existing closed areas will be expanded and a new closed area has been added in international waters to protect fragile coral and sponges. This brings the total NAFO closure areas to 20. Canada is also pleased that NAFO agreed to extend the existing closures until at least 2020.

Quick Facts

  • NAFO is an intergovernmental fisheries science and management body. NAFO was founded in 1979 as a successor to the International Commission of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (ICNAF).
  • NAFO's overall objective is to contribute through consultation and cooperation to the optimum utilization, rational management and conservation of the fishery resources of the NAFO Convention Area.
  • Currently NAFO has 12 members from North America, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. Among them are four coastal states bordering the Convention Area: the United States of America, Canada, France (in respect of Saint Pierre and Miquelon), and Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland).


"Canada and the international community have a responsibility to ensure prosperous and sustainable fisheries for the benefit of future generations of fishermen to come. We are satisfied with Canada's leadership role within NAFO but are saddened that in keeping with scientific advice, we had to make the difficult decision of instituting a moratorium in NAFO Division 3LNO.

"Our Government is committed to balancing economic opportunity for fishermen while promoting the sustainability of the Northern shrimp fishery. That is why we have successfully introduced a proposition stating that this fishery should be reopened at the earliest opportunity, based on science. Moving forward, the Department will continue to discuss with stakeholders how best to manage and adapt to changing environmental conditions and continue its work to bolster its science."

-The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Related Products

- To see all decisions and Total Allowable Catch levels resulting from the NAFO annual meeting, please refer to the NAFO Annual Meeting press release.


Follow us on Twitter!

Contact Information

  • Frank Stanek
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada

    Sophie Doucet
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada